Climate change: G7 leaders must scale up commitments and cooperation with the developing world
– DHIROJ KOIRALA, TETSUSHI SONOBE, DIL RAHUT
This commentary originally appeared in the South China Morning Post on 27 April 2023. Read the original commentary here.
The Group of Seven (G7) leaders are set to meet in Hiroshima next month to contest daunting global challenges. The host city was hit by an atomic bomb almost 78 years ago, resulting in a historical tragedy. Those who visit the city will see a message to humanity etched on the Hiroshima Memorial Cenotaph: “Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil.”
Today, we face another human-induced threat in climate change. As the world seeks to prevent the full-scale damage climate change is capable of, it seeks the kind of determination Hiroshima showed while rebuilding itself into a resilient, prosperous city. That is why it is vital to promote international cooperation, and G7 leaders must come to an agreement to scale up efforts on climate action.
The G7 bears the responsibility for leading efforts to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions as developed Western countries have emitted most of the world’s greenhouse gases since the start of the Industrial Revolution. We hope the G7 leaders can focus on having meaningful discourse on climate change, reaffirm their prior climate commitments and allow for the emergence of new commitments to help escape another human catastrophe.
The G7 also needs to accept that its members alone cannot limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Recent scientific estimates show that doing so would require emissions reductions of around 43 per cent by 2030, relative to 2019 levels.
Therefore, the group needs to coordinate with developing countries. However, the reality is that geopolitical tensions between China and the United States, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have hampered global emission-reduction efforts. Last year’s G7 summit in Germany included a pledge that the war would not hinder climate and biodiversity goals, and we hope the group proposes bold, pragmatic and tangible initiatives to achieve that.
Rising emissions from developing countries such as China and India are also complicating climate negotiations. It is imperative the G7 understands that these countries have their own growth concerns around emissions reductions. However, the group can encourage initiatives that promote climate-smart growth in developing countries. Bringing these initiatives to life will require the G7 and emerging economies to enhance communication and cooperation on climate finance, and research and development.
The G7 must also support low-income and vulnerable countries. It should propose establishing climate funds in coordination with major developing countries with high emissions to support climate initiatives in low-income economies. The Group of 20 meetings are an appropriate forum for expanding such cooperation.
In addition, the group should review the progress of its commitment to deliver US$100 billion per year through to 2025, made at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in 2009. Unfortunately, it has yet to fulfil this commitment on climate financing.
The G7 must take substantive steps to live up to this pledge and extend it well beyond 2025. It should also encourage countries – some of which are major emitters and close political allies – to align their nationally determined contribution with the 1.5-degree pathway if they have not yet done so.
G7 countries have agreed to uphold the Glasgow Climate Pact and phase down the use of coal power and inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels, hoping to achieve this by 2030 at the latest. They have committed to decarbonise their electricity sectors by 2035 and highly decarbonise road transport sectors by 2030. These commitments are crucial for achieving carbon neutrality, so the G7 should roll out further details of these plans and come up with ways to track progress on previous commitments.
Despite some shortcomings and a failure to deliver on its commitments, the G7’s vision for emissions reductions and commitment to decarbonisation are valuable and should not be forgotten. As a result, the team at the Asian Development Bank Institute is working to develop a dashboard to keep track of those visions and commitments.
Similarly, to support G7 commitments to fight climate change, the ADB has initiatives such as the Energy Transition Mechanism, a scalable, blended-finance instrument to step up the retirement of coal-fired power plants in the Asia-Pacific region. Towards that end, the ADB has joined the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet to pledge US$35 million to help improve energy access and boost the green energy transition in South and Southeast Asia.
In October 2021, the ADB committed to provide US$100 billion in cumulative climate financing from its own resources to its developing member countries from 2019 to 2030. Multilateral agencies such as the ADB can support the G7 by bringing in new climate programmes and carrying out existing ones on climate finance in emerging economies.
The ADB is committed to working with the G7 and other partners to support climate-resilient growth and recovery in the Asia-Pacific region. Strong commitment, broader cooperation and concerted efforts at every level possible are the only way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure we do not “repeat the evil” – an important message that Hiroshima continues to provide.