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Fossil fuels still attract more cash than renewables in the G7

Gains made during 2020 need to have been sustained to meet climate goals


Pete Carvill

New research from UK charity Tearfund has found that G7 nations committed $42bn more to fossil fuels between January 2020 and March 2021 than they did to renewable energy.

Tearfund’s says that its analysis showed that while coal, oil, and gas attracted $189bn in this period, clean forms of energy received only $147bn. The differential, said the charity, is “[…] inconsistent with the steep decline in emissions needed to limit global warming”.

The charity also said that the G7 countries had missed “major” opportunities to make their covid-19 responses greener, with more than $8 in every $10 committed having no “green strings” attached. Just $1 in $10, Tearfund said, was of benefit to the cleanest energy measures.

The fallout from this, while still unclear, does not help the world’s nations meet their commitment to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees.

CO2 bounce back

The report’s authors wrote: “The world is not on track to meet the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and faces a huge challenge in doing so. The temporary decline of 6.4% in CO2 emissions observed in 2020 would have to be sustained, and even increased – to 7.6% – year on year, to close the emissions gap by 2030. Yet, CO2 emissions are already bouncing back to pre-2020 levels. Moreover, clean solutions that accelerate the decarbonisation of the economy can create thousands of decent and sustainable jobs – a central focus of covid-19 response.”

Tearfund made several recommendations for G7 leaders to reaffirm their commitment to combatting climate change. Among these were a ‘do no harm’ principle for all spending, dedicating a minimum of 40% of covid-19 recovery spending to measures supporting the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, and ending overseas financial aid to fossil fuels.

While governments are struggling to fulfil their environmental obligations, and have lost in court repeatedly to climate action groups, the sustainable investment strategies of some funds has been thought by some—including Bob Litterman, founding partner of Kepos Capital—to be speeding the world towards a low-carbon economy. Other companies, such as Tesla, have made public moves to distance themselves from carbon-heavy ventures such as Bitcoin due to the latter’s environmental impact.