A COP 27 event marked the Glasgow Statement’s one-year anniversary by urging Germany, Italy, Canada, and the United States to live up to climate promises that could shift US$28 billion per year from fossil fuels to clean energy.
“In Glasgow, 39 countries and institutions promised that they will end national public finance for fossil fuels by the end of this year, and instead fully prioritize support for clean energy. And one year later, only half of the signatories with major international finance have turned their pledges into action,” said Ugandan climate activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Vanessa Nakate.
“I don’t know what a pledge means to these leaders, but I know what it means to me. Making a pledge means taking care of your responsibilities. Making a pledge means you’re sticking by your commitments. Making a pledge means keeping your word,” Nakate added.
A complete and effective execution of the pledges by all signatories would directly shift US$28 billion from fossil fuels to clean energy each year, according to the International Institute for Sustainable Development. For people in poverty around the world, that shift in financing “means the difference between life and death,” Fred Njehu, senior Africa policy advisor at Tearfund, said in a release circulated in the lead-up to the event.
“But at the moment, we’re still seeing too much funding for dirty fossil fuels, which is contributing to the devastating drought and flooding that we’ve seen this year,” Njehu added.
To document progress on last year’s commitments, Oil Change International released an implementation tracker that evaluates and describes the status of each country’s fossil fuel policies.
The tracking document shows that, so far, no countries are doing enough to prioritize a clean energy transition. Only six of the Glasgow Statement’s 16 high-income signatories that provide public finance for energy—the United Kingdom, Denmark, the European Investment Bank (EIB), France, Finland, and Sweden—have existing or new policies that align with their commitments. Details of those policies vary across the different countries, but “all put a complete halt to investments in new oil and gas extraction and LNG infrastructure.”
Belgium and the Netherlands have also issued new policies that restrict fossil fuel support but leave major loopholes for continued development. Policies from Spain and Switzerland are still forthcoming and are expected to be issued ahead of the end of 2022 deadline.
On the other end of the spectrum, seven high-income countries—Canada, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland—have yet to publish any policies to implement the Glasgow Statement, and the U.S. has reportedly adopted a policy but refuses to publish it. Meanwhile, countries that have not signed on—notably Australia and Norway—are facing increasing pressure to do so.
Beginning in 2021, modelling the International Energy Agency has shown that new investments for fossil fuel development must stop entirely in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels. Despite questionable commitments from some of the Statement’s current signatories, recent public finance for energy data shows that fossil fuel exclusion policies are effective: Oil Change says a quarter of the 36% drop in public finance for fossil fuels over the last three years can be attributed to fossil fuel exclusion policies in the UK and the EIB, along with finance restrictions for coal power.