KT edit: G7 should lead the world on a greener path

Poor countries need the support of richer nations to be able to drive growth and change without putting strain on the limited resources we have.

Published: Sun 13 Jun 2021, 11:54 PM

Our world is changing faster than we or our political class cares to admit. The changing weather across countries, warming seas, dying corals, fauna and flora are calling our attention to their dire state, yet we remain myopic in our views. Economic growth, development, older ways of life run by fossil fuels are more prized than taking a hard look at our future. Sir David Attenborough, arguably the most distinguishable voice for our planet, rightly warned humans could be “on the verge of destabilising the entire planet”. What we need is collective action to protect life as we know it on this blue planet, and G7 is one of the strongest groups that could take the lead and influence the world in greener ways. However, the political will to tackle this most pressing issue of our times seems to be lacking.

On Sunday, the concluding day for the G7 summit, the leaders of seven rich countries made a statement announcing increased funding for climate change projects. However, individual pledges on how much each nation will contribute are missing. These numbers are important. Climate financing is a sticky point and often the lack of funding, especially in developing countries, is the reason why some good projects cannot take off as envisioned. Poor countries need the support of richer nations to be able to drive growth and change without putting strain on the limited resources we have.

Tackling climate change isn’t only about transforming energy systems but also about adapting to our changing climatic conditions. The efforts should go beyond that. The plan should include spending on reforestation and coastal defence systems. Efforts need to be made to cut emissions at a faster pace and find ways to adapt to rising temperatures. Just as important as funding is how it is being spent. Cities and countries need transformative projects that can steer change in the way we consume energy. Installing solar plants in cities or building more hydropower facilities at a time when the world is becoming warmer and hence future flow of water could decrease drastically isn’t the best option. The money should be used in diversifying energy sources. Agriculture, forest and land-related initiatives have historically struggled for funding, even when these are responsible for almost one-quarter of the past decade’s emissions.

The G7 has done well to announce its intentions to increase funding to tackle climate change. However, respective countries should announce their individual contributions as well and ensure that they are followed through. It is good to see that all countries, including the US, are on the same page and realise the grave challenges that we collectively face. It was the West that drove the industrial revolution, and now it is time for the bloc again to take the lead and drive change for a green revolution. The G7’s ‘green belt and road’ plan to provide green financing to developing world is also a good step. By the time of the COP26 climate summit in November, the world’s largest industrialised democracies should have a plan and structure in place to lead the world on a greener path.

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