Climate Briefing: which countries are doing what

By Charlie Wilson

A recent article by Adam Tooze notes two very important pieces of information for the climate and labour movements to think through and come to grips with.

First, he notes that putting the world onto a path to sustainable development would, according to “a panel of experts working for the COP27 meeting in November 2022 headed up by Vera Songwe, Nicholas Stern and Amar Bhattacharya” cost around $4 Trillion a year. This is between 4-6% of global GDP. He stresses that this is a broad consensus among the experts working in this field and that this has a global authority given its UN status. As Tooze puts it “let us focus on the figure: $4 Trillion per annum. The number cannot be repeated too often: At least $4 Trillion per annum for the foreseeable future. In new investment. Every year. We should learn to live with that number and use it as a benchmark”. He further notes that this would not be “money “blown out of the window”. Sustainable development investment builds schools, railways, power lines, renewable energy facilities. It is not like spending money on nuclear weapons – expensive, highly-sophisticated deadly artifacts we store in secret silos and hope never to use”.

But he then notes that the actual amount being invested is about a quarter of that. In 2022 it was $1.1 Trillion.

He further notes that “measured against the $4 Trillion per annum benchmark, the only country that over the last decade has come anywhere close to spending, lending and investing on the required scale is CCP-led China”.

These figures from Bloomberg bear that out.

Investment in Energy Transition 2022In US $Bn

That looks like this.

That means that China’s investment in making the transition that the world needs is 70% greater than that of the USA and EU put together, despite their significantly higher per capita wealth.

The political conclusion should be obvious, that the wealthy countries should be forced to step up their investment to China’s level, and the vested interests that stand in the way of doing so will have to be broken down to enable them to do so. As a first step, the stance of increasing hostility, decoupling and increased military spending needs to be put into reverse; and the climate and labour movements should unite to campaign for that.