Contributed by Robert Lyman © 2019
Robert Lyman is an Ottawa energy policy consultant, former public servant and diplomat. His full bio is here.
In preparation for yet another United Nations “Climate Summit” to be held soon in New York, the representatives of various developing countries have been signaling their concerns and demands relating to what developed countries like Canada should do. In recent statements by China and India, the leaders have sent a simple message. “Pay up!”
They are referring to the commitment that several OECD countries made in 2012 and then again at the 21st Conference of the Parties on Climate Change in Paris in 2015 (COP21) that they would contribute at least $100 billion per year by 2020 to help the developing countries pay for greenhouse gas reductions and for adaptation to climate change. So far, the Green Climate Fund has barely $20 billion ($2.3 billion from Canada, in one of Justin Trudeau’s first actions after being elected), and has actually allocated only a portion of that to projects.
In separate statements on September 17, China and India reminded the developed countries of their commitment.
China is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. According to the British Petroleum Statistical Review of World Energy 2019, in 2018 China (including Hong Kong) emitted 9.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (CO2e) , or over 28 per cent of the world total. China has made a number of commitments to “peak” its emissions by 2030, but by then its emissions will be somewhere between 14.4 billion and 16.6 billion tonnes of CO2e per year, two to two-and-a-half times those of the United States (source: Climate Action Tracker). China has the second largest economy in the world and one of the fastest growing ones. Yet, it qualifies to receive funds out of the Green Climate Fund, and it wants our money.
India is now the fourth largest emitter in terms of CO2e, with 2.5 billion tonnes in 2018. India’s emissions are growing even faster that those of China in percentage terms, and by 2030 are projected to be 4.5 billion tonnes CO2e, according to Climate Action Tracker. The Indian Ministry of Finance just issued a report stating that India aims to be a U.S. $5 trillion economy by 2014 but that it demands that the developed countries pay more to cover the costs of its emissions reduction. The report quoted 2016 UN data saying that total “climate specific” finance flows from developed countries was US $38 billion, less than 40% of the US $100 billion per year Green Climate Fund target.
The COP21 agreement did not include any provisions as to the apportionment of payment responsibilities among the developed countries or the apportionment of payments to the developing countries. The declaration by the Trump Administration in the United States that it will withdraw from the COP21 Agreement in 2020 leaves another question as to whether the remaining developed countries are still willing to pay US $100 billion per year.
If anyone from China or India arrives at my door asking for my contribution, I will just say that I gave at the office. How about you?