A missed target of $100 billion in climate funding to developing countries must increase before Cop26 summit in Glasgow later this year, a think tank has said.
World leaders and climate activists will meet in November for the Cop26 summit, described as humanity's "last, best chance" to restrict global warming to 1.5°C and avert an environmental catastrophe.
Since 2009, developed countries have agreed to find $100bn each year in funding to address the needs of developing nations between 2020 and 2025. This money was to be used to help poorer countries mobilise and meet their climate goals under the Paris Agreement.
However, an estimated climate finance gap of $20bn remained by the 2020 deadline, according to figures released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
In a new paper, the E3G think tank said a new climate plan must aim to deliver larger sums between 2022 and 2025, above the $100bn that was promised to address this shortfall.
If this funding is not met, China – which has half the world’s coal-fired power plants – will find it easier to excuse a failure to reduce its emissions, the report says.
It cited figures produced by the economist Lord Nicholas Stern from the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the London School of Economics. He said $150 billion a year would be feasible by 2025.
"A higher target is needed to average out beyond $100bn annually and make amends for initial shortfalls," said report author Iskander Erzini Vernoit.
"Although lawyers may argue there is no legal basis for a higher target or $500bn expectation, this misses the point. The issue is not a legal obligation, but a political necessity of showing good faith.
"To permit progress on other agendas – including the post-2025 finance goal and obtaining pre-2030 emissions reductions by all major economies to keep 1.5°C alive – ambition on scale is crucial."
The authors of the report say that "joined-up, whole-of-government diplomacy" is also required and that politicians must take heed of the failure to deliver on the $100bn-a-year goal.
The keys to meeting this challenge would be boosting specific national climate finance pledges, reallocating International Monetary Fund-issued special drawing rights and increased input from developed country shareholders.
The report also said that such a promise is within reach but should be delivered by September, at the latest, before the UN General Assembly.
"Advanced economies spent almost $12 trillion in 2020 alone on Covid-19 fiscal measures, according to the IMF – powering past the $100bn is therefore a relatively small fiscal commitment by comparison," the report said.
"A credible plan to surpass $500bn in climate finance over five years is needed – not just for trust between countries, but for action to keep 1.5°C alive in this decisive decade for human history."