British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told world leaders at the start of the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow on Monday that ways must be found to channel hundreds of billions of dollars in private funding into the fight against the climate change.
More than 120 heads of state and government gathered in Scotland’s largest city for the opening ceremony of the crucial conference which aims to keep alive the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
One of the tasks ahead of the crucial summit over the next fortnight is to finalize a funding package pledged to help the poorest economies meet the goals of the agreement reached in the French capital in 2015 and backed by nearly 200 countries. signatories.
Rich countries lagging behind
Developed countries pledged at COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009 to find $ 100 billion a year by 2020 to help less developed countries, but six years after further commitments in Paris, this has yet to be finalized .
Currently, pledges are about $ 20 billion short and the $ 100 billion is not expected to be found for two years.
“We now have a duty to find these funds – $ 100 billion a year which was pledged to Paris by 2020 but which we will not provide until 2023 – to help the rest of the world switch to green technologies,” he said. Johnson said.
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“But we cannot and will not succeed by spending government alone.
“We in this room could deploy hundreds of billions, no doubt, but the market is in the hundreds of billions.”
He said government spending and aid should focus on helping to reduce the risk of decarbonization projects to encourage private finance to flow.
The British Prime Minister noted his own country’s success in creating the conditions for the private sector to play a key role in building its booming wind sector.
“We can find the funding and we have to,” Johnson said.
The opening ceremony also heard from heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Guterres said the $ 100 billion a year must become a “climate finance reality” as soon as possible.
“It is essential to restore confidence and credibility,” he said.
“But beyond $ 100 billion, developing countries need much more resources to fight Covid-19, strengthen their resilience and pursue sustainable development. “
He added that the world’s least developed countries and small island developing states “need urgent funding” in the form of “more public climate finance, more overseas development assistance, more grants, easier access to funding ”.
“And multilateral development banks need to work much more seriously to mobilize more investment through blended and private finance,” he said.
Later Monday, India’s prime minister used COP26 to announce 2070 as his country’s goal of achieving zero carbon emissions, two decades beyond what scientists believe is necessary to avoid catastrophic climate impacts.
Narendra Modi, however, defended India as having met its climate commitments “in spirit and letter” and noted that his country contained 17% of the world’s population but was responsible for only 5% of global emissions.
Modi has told other world leaders that India will increase the share of renewables in its energy mix from around 38% last year to 50% by 2030.
Just last week, India, currently the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the United States, rejected calls to announce a net zero carbon emissions target.
He said it was more important for the world to define credible pathways to reduce emissions.
President Joe Biden sought to assure world leaders that the United States would keep its promise to cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than half by the end of the decade, even though key policies to ensure these reductions remain uncertain.
Biden, who took over from former President Donald Trump in January, admitted that the United States has not always led by example on climate change.
“This is why my administration is working overtime to show that our climate commitment is action, not words,” Biden said.
Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris agreement, but Biden gave it back when he took office.
COP26 kicked off on the heels of the G20 summit in Rome which concluded with a declaration urging “meaningful and effective” action on climate change, but left a lot of work for negotiators to secure an ambitious outcome.
(Reuters contributed to this article.)