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G7 leaders pushed for solidarity on climate change and COVID-19

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Pressure is mounting on the leaders of the G7 rich nations club to secure more funding to deal with climate change and excess COVID-19 vaccines for developing countries as an act of global solidarity when they meet this weekend in Britain.

Green groups, development agencies and international policy experts said those gestures would be effective in building confidence ahead of the November COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, seen as essential to implementing the 2015 Paris climate agreement in practice.

But convincing G7 leaders to dig deeper has been further complicated by Britain’s decision to temporarily cut its overseas aid budget due to COVID-19 economic woes, and even doubling its climate finances. in the next five years.

Pete Betts, a former EU chief negotiator for the climate, said the UK aid decision had caused frustration in the developing world and prompted senior officials in other rich countries to ask why they should increase it. their promises of climate finance.

“I’m afraid it ‘s eroding and undermining the UK’ s credibility to push others to do more,” the former UK bureaucrat, now an associate at Chatham House, told a news conference on Monday. internet.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a high-level dialogue hosted by Germany in May he hoped to secure a “substantial pile of money” at the June G7 summit, so that rich nations could fulfill an unfulfilled promise to channeled $ 100 billion a year into climate finance to vulnerable countries by 2020.

Rachel Kyte, dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University, said G7 leaders must make a clear commitment to honor the promise made for the first time in 2009 ahead of COP26.

Pieces of ice swim inside molten water pools on top of a glacier near Tasiilaq, Greenland, in 2018. |  REUTERS
Pieces of ice swim inside molten water pools on top of a glacier near Tasiilaq, Greenland, in 2018. | REUTERS

They also need to meet a new climate financing target for 2025 and increase development assistance through international institutions, she said.

All G7 nations need to “come up with” more climate finance while easing the conditions attached to it, she said, with France, Italy, Japan and Canada particularly in need of clarifying their plans.

Diplomatic efforts by British officials to galvanize political will and come up with creative ways to increase funding ahead of COP26 are fading with the UK decision to cut development aid to 0.5% of gross national income this year, from a legally projected level of 0.7%, she added.

Some politicians from Johnson’s own Conservative Party have been pushing for a vote in parliament to re-raise aid allocation by 2022, but their efforts were thwarted Monday when a proposed vote was not allowed to continue.

Bond, a British network of aid and environmental charities, said the cut in the UK was “removing clean water and sanitation bases, vaccines or education for children, food and shelter during the conflict”.

“How can the UK expect other G7 nations to step forward when we ourselves are retreating?” asked him in a statement Monday, saying Britain had no economic need “to balance our books on the backs of the world’s poorest people”.

Graca Machel, Mozambique’s first education minister and vice president of The Elders, a group of former statesmen and women, said her Southeast African country had been hit in recent years by increasingly strong storms but was not receiving support. international he needed.

Rich countries promised to boost climate finance at UN climate talks over a decade ago, but poorer countries are still waiting even when the effects of climate change increase “dramatically” and pandemic piles into further pain. she noted.

Students march during a rally calling for climate action in Melbourne on 21 May.  |  AFP-JIJI
Students march during a rally calling for climate action in Melbourne on 21 May. | AFP-JIJI

“Where we are today is much worse than 10 years ago. “Now we are saying that we are a human family, we must be in solidarity with each other,” she told reporters.

“Either we are all safe or no one is safe.”

On Monday, Elders including former Irish President Mary Robinson and former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent letters to all G7 leaders urging them to deliver on the pledge of $ 100 billion a year in climate funding.

Half of the money should go to efforts to adapt to more extreme weather and rising seas, they added.

The group also pushed G7 leaders to provide one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the poorest countries by September 1 and more than 2 billion doses by mid-2022, while helping nations obtain licenses and technology to produce vaccines. tire.

“In this moment of global crisis, multilateralism is uniquely important and uniquely threatened,” the Elders said in their letter.

“The threat will increase if the multilateral system fails to meet the urgent concerns of the moment – climate change and pandemic regeneration,” they warned.

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