Canada will contribute $450 million to the United Nations’ main fund to help developing countries cope with climate change, the country’s climate minister said on Wednesday.
The pledge comes as countries prepare for this year’s UN COP28 climate negotiations. Questions around finance are already looming over the talks on how to cut CO2 emissions, which poorer nations say they cannot do without more support to cope with spiralling costs from climate change-fuelled disasters.
Environment and Climate Minister Steven Guilbeault said the commitment was a 50% increase from its previous pledge to the UN Green Climate Fund.
He said the government will present a separate plan within weeks to eliminate so-called “inefficient” domestic subsidies for fossil fuels, a term that can mean those that encourage wasteful consumption or hamper clean energy. That could also free up more money for green alternatives.
“We need more money, and we need more money from all sources,” said Guilbeault, calling on other countries and the private sector to step up.
The cash is not new. It comes from Canada’s existing overall $5.3 billion climate finance pledge, which the country doubled in 2021.
Wealthy countries’ failure to deliver promised climate finance has fuelled mistrust in negotiations on how to tackle climate change. Rich nations are expected to finally meet a promise this year to provide $100 billion in such funding – three years later than pledged.
That pledge falls far short of poorer countries’ real needs in the face of worsening droughts, floods and wildfires, impacts also hitting wealthier nations like Canada, which is on track for its worst-ever wildfire season.
Vulnerable nations are pursuing other avenues to unlock climate finance, including the Barbados-led “Bridgetown Initiative” to reform multilateral finance institutions.
But some say the UN’s list of countries contributing climate finance should also be updated – potentially to include China, the world’s second-biggest economy. China is excluded from the UN list, which dates from the 1990s.
Guilbeault said the idea of expanding this list remained a “difficult conversation”. He did not name specific countries.
“There’s not a lot of openness, on the part of many who aren’t now donors or serious donors, to ramp up their efforts,” he said.