Rich countries have finally hit their $100B US climate finance goal, Guilbeault says

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault speaks during the Montreal Climate Summit in Montreal on Wednesday, May 10, 2023.  (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi - image credit)
Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault speaks during the Montreal Climate Summit in Montreal on Wednesday, May 10, 2023. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi - image credit)

Canada announced Wednesday that wealthy countries have finally reached their goal of providing $100 billion US to help poorer countries both combat and adapt to climate change — two years behind schedule.

Prior to the announcement, the international community wasn't sure the world's richest nations had kept their promise.

But numbers verified by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and released Wednesday confirm wealthy nations have achieved and surpassed that goal.

The report shows that climate finance reached $115.9 billion US in 2022, up from $89.6 billion US in 2021.

Since 2021, Canada and Germany have taken joint responsibility for administering the climate finance fund and making sure their wealthier peers pay up.

Guilbeault told CBC News he and his German counterpart Jennifer Morgan have spent the last several years pushing other countries to do their part.

"I think this work that Canada and Germany has been doing has been instrumental in where we are now," Guilbeault said.

"I think that pressure wasn't there before.… That started happening in 2021 and maybe it should have happened sooner."

In 2009, the world's wealthiest nations committed at the COP15 conference in Copenhagen to providing $100 billion US annually in climate financing. The money is intended to go toward projects that cut emissions as well as those that help mitigate the effects of climate change and extreme weather, such as seawalls.

The Copenhagen agreement was based on the recognition that the developed world is mainly responsible for producing climate-changing emissions that now disproportionately affect poorer countries.

The European Union and the 23 countries at COP15 committed to delivering on the money commitment by 2020. The $100-billion US target was formalized at a subsequent summit and the deadline was extended to 2025.

COP climate summits are United Nations conferences hosted annually by different countries. They are global decision-making forums set up to implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, adopted in the early 1990s, and subsequent climate agreements.

Previous figures from the OECD indicate the total climate finance provided and mobilized by developed countries amounted to $89.6 billion US in 2021.

"Based on preliminary and as yet unverified data, the goal looks likely to have already been met as of 2022," the OECD report states.

The OECD estimates that by 2025, developing countries will need around $1 trillion US annually for climate investments and financing. That figure is expected to increase to roughly $2.4 trillion US annually between 2026 and 2030.

Canada and the world setting new climate finance goal

As Canada prepares for the next COP in Baku, Azerbaijan, in November, it and other countries will negotiate a new climate finance goal, called the new collective quantifiable goal.

The head of Climate Action Network Canada, Caroline Brouillette, called on Canada and other countries to ramp up their commitments.

The failure to hit the climate finance target on time, Brouillette said, has tarnished the relationship between the wealthy countries that have caused climate change and the developing nations feeling its worst effects.

With Ottawa launching consultations on Canada's contribution, Brouillette said her network is calling on the federal government to triple its commitment of $5.3 billion over five years.

"Canada's next commitment will be one of the most important legacies when it comes to building trust with the global south," said Brouillette.