YOU have to wonder what you would think, looking on from a developing country, of the G7’s commitment to tackling the climate crisis. There are, of course, plenty of nice words. Boris Johnson arriving in Cornwall in his private jet, announcing a plan of “building back better, building back greener, building back fairer, and building back more equal”. It’s also great to see that with Joe Biden in office, we finally have a group of leaders that seem more intent on properly tackling the climate crisis.

The G7 sound like they want to save the world from climate change, to drive a global green industrial revolution, but the question is whether they are willing to pay for it. Are their actions consistent with the words? If you were a developing country, would you trust us?

Often the story can look like one of giving with one hand and taking away with another. Johnson takes from the foreign aid budget, but gives back with a 100 million vaccine pledge, though "within the next year" still feels like too little, too late, and its worth bearing in mind that the World Health Organisation has said that the G7 need to commit to distribute 11bn vaccines, and not just 1bn they have promised. He slashes aid to some of the countries suffering the world's largest humanitarian disasters, but pours cash into a fund for girls education.

Or like spin – when for instance Johnson announces, as if it were something new, the £500 million to be spent on a blue planet fund, but it was actually contained in the Conservative manifesto in 2019.

One has to wonder if the UK government’s inconstancy on its foreign aid commitment, makes commitments on climate finance seem less permanent and more fragile, less of a promise. If a pandemic can leave us too strapped for cash to give out, what else might get in the way of funding for climate adaptation for the rest of the world?

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The reliability of the G7 is in question. In 2009, developed countries pledged to collectively raise $100 billion annually to climate transition in poorer countries starting 2020, the year, of course, the pandemic hit. The figures are not yet in for 2020, but the latest data suggested we were not on target – though the UK at least, according to a a report by Care Denmark, titled Hollow Commitments, is one of only two G7 countries to have set out proposals to increase climate finance in recent months.

Former Irish president Mary Robinson, an advocate of climate justice, said of the UK cuts to international aid last week, “This is the wrong time and the wrong way, especially when you have presidency at the COP. We need to build trust with developing countries. The $100 billion a year of climate finance, half of it going to adaptation, has long been promised and we still haven’t got there. Meanwhile developing countries are seeing the huge solidarity packages that the richer parts of the world want for their citizens.”

As Robinson also pointed out, “The presidency of the COP has to have the trust of developing countries if we are going to have a successful COP.”

Has this weekend’s meeting enhanced that trust? Not enough, I suspect.

Most of us still like to believe in some idea of fairness as key to our humanity. We would like to imagine that our governments are looking after us, but also being fair. That’s why the voices around climate justice are ever growing louder. There is even talk of ideas like “restorative climate justice”, a principle of respect and “meaningful contrition, on the part of those responsible for climate change”, which has been created by an environmental charity based in Leith where I live, Earth in Common. They believe local, indigenous solutions should be at the heart of foreign aid. Such concepts are reminders of the fact that it's the people who have made least contributions to climate changing greenhouse gases that are on the frontline of the climate crisis.

Boris talks about building back fairer, but is the talk followed by action? This time it had better be.