At G-7 Summit, World Leaders Must Commit to Increasing Climate Finance for Developing Countries
The G-7 Leaders’ Summit is underway, from June 11–13, in Cornwall, UK. As host nation for this summit, and the annual climate talks later this year (also known as COP26), the UK will clearly be elevating the need for climate action, alongside dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and trade issues. One priority that must get urgent attention: richer nations need to make concrete commitments to increasing climate finance for developing countries. Here in the US, 48 groups, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, have just sent a letter to Congress calling for increased funding for climate finance in the federal budget.
The G7 Leaders’ Summit must prioritize climate finance
At the summit, the leaders of the G-7 countries — the UK, USA, Canada, Japan, Germany, France and Italy, and the EU — will be joined by guest nations Australia, India, South Korea, and South Africa. Tackling climate change is one of the four policy priorities on the agenda.
Ahead of the Leaders’ Summit, the finance ministers of the G-7 nations met last week. The highlight of that meeting was the announcement of a commitment to a global minimum tax rate of 15 percent for major corporations. In a statement, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said: “That global minimum tax would end the race-to-the-bottom in corporate taxation, and ensure fairness for the middle class and working people in the US and around the world.”
However, in terms of climate outcomes, the Finance Ministers’ Communique was disappointing. There were vague mentions of commitments to achieving net-zero emissions by mid-century and no major new financial commitments for clean energy investments or adaptation needs in developing countries, raising the stakes for more concrete actions at the Leader’s Summit and ahead of COP26.
On international climate finance, specifically, the text stated:
“We commit to increase and improve our climate finance contributions through to 2025, including increasing adaptation finance and finance for nature-based solutions. We welcome the commitments already made by some G7 countries to increase climate finance. We look forward to further commitments at the G7 Leaders’ Summit or ahead of COP26. We call on all the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) to set ambitious dates for Paris Alignment ahead of COP26, and welcome their work supporting client countries.”
The unfair and worsening toll of climate impacts
Worldwide, climate impacts are unfolding in terrifying and costly ways. Worsening heat waves, floods, droughts, tropical storms and wildfires are taking a mounting toll on communities and economies.
Last month, for example, the unusually intense Cyclone Tauktae struck the coast of Gujarat in India, after traveling up the western coast causing heavy rainfall and floods. The cyclone took the lives of over 100 people, including 86 at an offshore oil and gas facility. Tauktae was the fifth strongest Arabian Sea cyclone on record, with peak winds of 140 mph, and tied for the strongest Arabian Sea landfalling cyclone. This latest storm is part of a trend toward increasingly frequent and powerful storms in the Arabian Sea that scientists have attributed to climate change, and that is expected to worsen.
And in a new ground-breaking study, researchers found that across 43 countries, 37 percent of summer heat-related deaths can be attributed to human-caused climate change. In several countries, including the Philippines, Thailand, Iran, Brazil, Peru, and Colombia, the proportion was greater than 50 percent.
The bottom line is that many developing countries that have contributed very little to the emissions that are fueling climate change are bearing the brunt of its impacts. Richer nations, like the United States, which are responsible for the vast majority of cumulative carbon emissions to date, must take responsibility for the harm being inflicted on poorer nations.
Climate finance is also desperately needed for developing countries to make a low-carbon transition. To have a fighting chance of limiting some of the worst climate impacts, the world will have to cut heat-trapping emissions in half by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions no later than 2050. The recent IEA net-zero by 2050 report points out that this is both feasible and affordable — as long as we make proactive, intentional investments in clean energy and curtail fossil fuels now, globally. That includes investments in decarbonizing every sector of the global energy system. It also means providing electricity to the 785 million people who currently do not have access, and clean cooking solutions to the 2.6 billion people who need them, most of whom live in developing countries — two priorities which the IEA estimates could be achieved by 2030 at a cost of about $40 billion a year and would deliver tremendous public health and economic benefits.
The necessary scale of international climate finance
In 2009, at the annual climate talks in Copenhagen, richer nations pledged to raise $100 billion a year to help developing countries cut their carbon emissions and adapt to climate change. Over ten years later, they have fallen woefully short.
The UNEP Adaptation Gap Report 2020, points out that “Annual adaptation costs in developing countries alone are currently estimated to be in the range of US$70 billion, with the expectation of reaching US$140–300 billion in 2030 and US$280–500 billion in 2050.”
Here in the US, the Biden administration and Congress must step up and ensure that this year’s federal budget includes a significant down payment on a US fair share contribution to climate finance, ahead of COP26. Forty eight groups, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, have just sent a letter to Congress, calling for a Fiscal Year 2022 allocation of at least $69.1 billion to support critical development goals and dedicating at least $3.3 billion of that for direct climate change programs as a step towards significantly increased international climate finance.
This is a minimum threshold, and a lot more will be needed in the years to come, including concrete steps from richer countries to recognize and respond to those crushing impacts of climate change that poorer nations simply will not be able to adapt to.
Sharp cuts in carbon emissions needed
Sharp cuts in global carbon emissions remain a core priority, especially with the latest data confirming — again — that we are far off track from where we need to be. While the 2020 economic downturn led to a brief dip in emissions, they are set to rise at a record-setting pace in 2021. Here too, richer nations must do much more. The Biden administration has made a significant commitment, pledging to cut US emissions 50–52% below 2005 levels by 2030, and we must now secure the domestic policies to deliver on that goal, starting with the American Jobs Plan.
An unconscionable gap between the rich and the poor
The gap in climate finance for developing countries is unconscionable. This mirrors the inequity in global vaccine availability, with richer nations stockpiling billions of surplus vaccine doses even as many countries have barely received any. With the climate crisis compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis, millions of lives are at risk and many more are being driven into poverty.
Just as with the COVID-19 crisis, solving the climate crisis will require collective global action. Equity is at the heart of ensuring the success of our efforts. Richer nations must both make sharp cuts in their own global warming emissions and contribute to climate finance for developing countries.
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After Paris banned electric scooters, something surprising happened in the city
Paris raised eyebrows earlier this year when the city voted to ban shared electric scooters. While privately owned electric scooters were still allowed, the thousands of shared electric scooters that were commonly used by locals and tourists were forced to vacate the city, with unexpected results.
The idea for a shared electric scooter ban was originally floated late last year in response to the growing complaints by a vocal minority of citizens who objected to their widespread use around the city. Earlier this year, the referendum went up for a vote. Ultimately, the majority of voters on the day supported the proposed ban, though extremely low turnout meant that the measure passed despite garnering ‘yes’ votes from just 7% of registered voters in Paris.
Shared electric scooters were often seen as a way for commuters to avoid driving cars and for tourists to eschew rental vehicles in favor of smaller shared e-scooters. Because the scooters weren’t privately owned, they were ideal for both groups as an on-demand transportation solution.
At their peak, 15,000 electric scooters helped riders navigate the capital city.
While many predicted that a shared electric scooter ban could have a knee-jerk reaction to return to larger vehicles, a new study has shown that the effect may have bolstered dockless bike-sharing instead.
An interesting trend has emerged comparing September 2022 and October 2022 ridership levels of dockless bikes and scooters. The total number of rides has slightly decreased this year due to the expulsion of shared electric scooter companies. However, the number of dockless bike rides skyrocketed, more than doubling in just one year.
September 2022’s roughly 750,000 dockless bike trips became nearly 2 million trips in September 2023. Similarly, October 2022 saw a nearly identical jump in ridership.
The results seem to show that despite Paris banning shared electric scooters, Parisians still seek out and use shared mobility devices. Now, they appear to have merely shifted to shared bikes instead of shared scooters.
Less than a year after the shared electric scooter ban was enacted, a modal shift towards alternative shared mobility is clearly visible in the city.
Shared electric scooters are out, but shared micromobility seems to be going strong.
Whether Parisians will take a similarly hardline approach against a new growing ridership of dockless mobility devices has yet to be seen, but could also determine the fate of dockless bikes in the city.
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Chinese EV maker Nio to spin off battery unit: report
For years, Chinese EV maker Nio has essentially done it all, delving into high-end EV manufacturing, in-house batteries, autonomous driving, and chips, as well as innovative battery-swapping tech and even making smartphones, all while pulling in huge investments and talent to make that happen. Now, according to a new report, it’s looking to lighten the load.
As reported by Reuters, Nio now plans to spin off its battery unit in hopes of turning a profit, cutting costs, and improving efficiency – and offloading some of its ambitions to pursue end-to-end strategies in EV tech. The move could take place as early as the end of this month, after which the battery unit will seek outside investors, followed by a valuation, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke to Reuters.
Nio’s current battery unit is headed by senior engineers who worked previously at Apple and Panasonic. During last year’s earnings report, CEO William Li said that the battery team comprised 400 people researching battery materials, cells, and battery management systems. In terms of the new company, the top engineers will presumably join the spin-off, while other employees will be merged into Nio’s other divisions, the report said.
Nio brought on a team of engineers “to mass-produce large cylindrical batteries similar to the Tesla 4680 in a planned plant in China’s eastern Anhui province in 2025 at the earliest,” Reuters writes. In February, reports stated that the plant would have an annual capacity to produce 40 GWh of batteries to power about 400,000 long-range EVs.
Nio of course hasn’t been immune to market pressures on EV makers, with a reported third-quarter loss of 4.56 billion yuan ($637.06 million) on Tuesday, a 10.8% increase from the same period a year ago. CEO Li, who has not mentioned any plans for a spin-off, is focusing on reassuring investors that the company isn’t in over its head, saying that they’ll cut staff by 10% and defer long-term investors to save up to 2 billion yuan in costs this year.
Nio has also partnered with Geely and state-owned Changan Automobile to develop EVs capable of battery swaps, making Nio the only passenger vehicle manufacturer advancing this potential. Nio, which already sells in Europe, is also looking to build a dealer network in the region to accelerate sales. It also has targeted 2025 as a goal for expanding to the US – no small ambition.
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