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A fair share of climate finance? An initial effort to apportion responsibility for the $100 billion climate finance goal

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Written by Sarah Colenbrander, Yue Cao, Laetitia Pettinotti

In Copenhagen in 2009, developed countries committed to jointly mobilise $100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. However, the climate accords rely on pledging and do not include any formulae for determining how responsibility for this target should be apportioned among developed countries.

This paper suggests three metrics to assess each developed country’s fair share of the climate finance goal: gross national income, cumulative carbon dioxide emissions and population. While imperfect, these metrics offer an indicative range to begin holding individual national governments to account.

With more generous interpretations of their contributions and favourable ways of apportioning responsibility, France and Germany are paying their fair share of climate finance. By comparison, the USA contributed just 7% of its fair share in 2017–2018.

If assessed against a more stringent definition of climate finance and using less favourable ways of apportioning responsibility, all the large developed countries need to increase their commitments. Under these conditions, Germany, Japan and the UK are paying 40–45% of their fair share. By comparison, Australia, Canada and the USA contributed less than 5% of their fair share in 2017–2018.

Corrections and clarifications

Published: 7 June 2021; corrected online: 8 June 2021. A correction was made to the data in Figure 1 on page 8.