conference gatherers look at a screen

Delegates from around the world meet at an annual climate change conference in Bonn, Germany, on June 3, 2024, in preparation for the COP29 conference in November in Azerbaijan.

(Photo: Christoph Driessen/Getty Images)

Climate Groups Call for Rich to Pay More as International Meetings Begin

"We have to put the social justice element upfront," an architect of the 2015 Paris agreement said as the world's climate delegates gathered in Germany.

Advocates on Tuesday issued strong calls to action on climate finance for developing countries and an international agency released a report on the need to ramp up renewable energy production as the Bonn Climate Change Conference continued in Germany and G7 nations prepared to meet in Italy next week.

At the conference in Bonn, Friends of the Earth International pushed for more rich-country financing to pay for the rising costs of climate impacts in the Global South, while Laurence Tubiana, head of the European Climate Foundation and an architect of the 2015 Paris agreement, called for the global rich to pay their share through taxes and consumption levies.

Meanwhile, two organizations warned that countries aren't on track to meet targets they set just last year. Oil Change International (OCI) published a briefing showing that G7 nations are expanding oil and gas commitments that undermine goals set at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) meeting in Dubai, and the International Energy Agency (IEA) issued a report showing that the world's nations are not on track to meet their Dubai pledge to triple renewable energy production by 2030.

"The world is on fire because of decades of inaction by rich countries on reducing emissions, and their failure to pay the climate finance they owe to developing countries to transition to renewable energy systems for all, and to pay for rising costs for loss and damage and adaptation," Sara Shaw, Friends of the Earth International program coordinator, said in a statement. "What is on the table to date is scales of magnitude away from what it needed. This year must be a year of breakthrough on climate finance."

Climate representatives are meeting in Bonn this week and next to prepare for COP29 in November in Azerbaijan, where a key agenda item is expected to be financing for a green transition in the Global South. COP negotiations are conducted under the aegis of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). At COP21 in 2015, nations signed the Paris agreement, a treaty that sought to limit global warming to less than 2°C above preindustrial levels.

Tubiana, an architect of that deal, said Tuesday that tackling climate change requires centering global justice in order to avoid conflict and gain public acceptance of climate measures.

"We have to put the social justice element upfront," Tubiana, a French economist and diplomat, toldThe Guardian.

Tubiana said that raising the funds required for low-income nations will require holding both rich nations and people to account, via taxes and consumption levies, given that inequities exist not just between nations but also within them.

"This inequality is true not only between developed countries and developing ones, but within each country—the 1% of rich Chinese, or the 1% of very rich Indians, or the U.S. citizen—they have a lifestyle which is very, very similar, in terms of overconsumption," she said.

The world's richest and most powerful nations are not taking responsibility for climate action as they should, the new OCI briefing argues.

"Some G7 countries are massively expanding fossil fuel production at home, while others are investing in more fossil fuel infrastructure abroad," the briefing states. "Both are catastrophic failures of leadership."

OCI cites the United States, Italy, and Japan as particularly bad climate actors. The U.S. is the largest oil and gas producer in the world and has plans for massive expansions of the industry, despite President Joe Biden's climate promises, the briefing notes. Italy has announced plans to double natural gas production. And both the U.S. and Japan have financed billions of dollars worth of oil and gas production in other countries just since the end of 2022, the document states, citing earlier OCI findings.

The IEA also spelled out unfulfilled commitments, while detailing progress that has been made on the energy transition. The agency looked at the domestic policies and targets of 150 countries to see how far along they were toward reaching the international target of tripling renewable power generation by 2030. It found that once added together, the nations' domestic plans would get them about 70% of the way toward the 11,000 gigawatts of additional capacity required to meet the goal.

"There is a gap, but the gap is bridgeable," Heymi Bahar, a senior energy analyst at the IEA and co-author of the report, toldThe Guardian.

Governments have not in most cases written these domestic plans into their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris agreement. The IEA report says that countries need to "bring their NDCs in line with their current domestic ambitions" and scale those ambitions up further still, to get from 70% to 100%. Moreover, they must follow through with their promises and achieve the targets they've set.

"This report makes clear that the tripling target is ambitious but achievable—though only if governments quickly turn promises into plans of action," Fatih Birol, the IEA's executive director, said in a statement.

The world added about 560 gigawatts of renewable capacity in 2023, a record increase, more than half of which came from China, according to the IEA. About half of planned capacity increases are in solar, with a quarter from wind power, the IEA report states.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.