South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the current Brics chair, announced last week that Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates would become full members of the bloc from January next year.
Brazil, Russia, India and China were the first members, with South Africa joining soon after. Emerging nations say only a fraction of the US$100 billion a year in climate change financing promised by rich nations at a 2009 summit in Copenhagen has flowed to them.
Oxfam International said in a June report that rich nations were three years overdue on their climate financing promise. While donors claim to have mobilised US$83.3 billion this year, the charity said that the real value of their spending was at most US$24.5 billion because this included projects where the climate objectives had been overstated or funds were given in the form of loans and not grants.
“In terms of the broken US$100 billion-a-year climate change mitigation promise, the simple truth is the Global South has previously lacked leverage,” said Einar Tangen, a senior fellow at the Taihe Institute think tank in Beijing.
“Separated like grains of sand, they have been no match for the developed powers.”
The Global South, a grouping of developing and least developed countries, is generally seen to encompass Brazil, India, Indonesia and China, alongside other low- and middle-income non-Western nations.
“Brics-plus is the first stirring of a consensus,” Tangen said, referring to the bloc’s recent expansion. “This, together with an increasingly interested Global South and Central Asian countries, represent the majority of the world’s natural resources, population, markets, GDP, growth, wealth and manufacturing, which puts them in a strong negotiating position.”
Brics, for example, now accounts for some 42 per cent of the world’s oil shipments, Tangen said.
But he cautioned that the group could realise potential gains “only if they see the opportunity” and were not clandestinely undermined by the United States.
Several world leaders, including those from small island nations and developing countries, have been calling for a complete overhaul of the international financial system to achieve this.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has backed the calls. Last week, he urged developed countries to provide the promised climate financing of US$100 billion a year to developing nations, while underscoring that higher costs of living had exacerbated poverty, hunger and inequality, making it harder to reach sustainable development goals by 2030.
“The US$100 billion per year in funding – as was committed years ago at the Copenhagen COP – is insignificant compared to the US$3 to US$4 trillion per annum that will be required for energy transition to net zero,” said Dhruba Purkayastha, India director of the Climate Policy Initiative, an analysis and advisory organisation.
“But if it happens, and work is under way for the same, it will be an important signal of commitment from the Global North to the Global South,” he said.
Climate activists say they hope that emerging nations will be able to take a strong position on limiting global warming to safe levels and accelerate the transition to cleaner, zero carbon fuels at a G20 ministerial meeting in India next month.