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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Climate finance has emerged as the biggest stumbling block to progress at the high-stakes United Nations climate talks in Scotland in November. How the Group of 7 wealthy nations treats the issue Friday and Saturday may determine the outcome.

Why it matters: Providing the funding that was promised to developing countries might open up other areas of important conversation in Glasgow, such as setting more ambitious emissions reduction targets for 2030.

Flashback: In 2015, developed nations promised that beginning in 2020, they would provide $100 billion annually to developing nations to help them cope with the effects of climate change and transition their economies away from fossil fuels.

  • This money has never fully materialized.

The big picture: Christiana Figueres, who chaired the Paris climate talks for the U.N. and is a founding partner of the NGO Global Optimism, told Bryan that the G7's credibility is on the line.

  • "Without trust, especially between the global north and the global south, none of this is going to happen," Figueres said.
  • Speaking of the $100 billion commitment, she said: "It is a political commitment and hence it has a very, very high symbolic value as really representing the trust that the global south can or cannot have in the global economy. That's why it's important."

Between the lines: "It's a very important totemic figure in terms of trusting the word of these leaders," said Saleemul Huq, who directs a climate and development NGO in Bangladesh, on a call with reporters.

  • "To me, the issue is the credibility of the world's leaders, the seven biggest countries who have made these promises, or whether we believe anything they say at all."

The bottom line: "This is beginning to look like diplomatic ineptitude amongst the rich countries, because $100 billion really in the scale of things is not an extraordinary amount of money, and it is not beyond our capability to meet that promise, keep it, and then extend it," said Rachel Kyte, dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

What we're watching: All eyes will be on the G7 leaders' communique to spot any progress on this issue, including any specific new monetary commitments from countries.

Go deeper: CEOs push G7 on climate ahead of meeting

Go deeper

Carbon math put G20 leaders in the hot seat

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The most ambitious Paris temperature target could nearly be met if only the Group of 20 largest economies were to slash emissions by 2030, on the way to net-zero by 2050, a new analysis finds.

Why it matters: Ahead of the November UN Climate Summit, pressure is mounting on G20 leaders to crack down further on emissions in order to stave off some of the worst ravages of global warming.

Axios roundtable on the future of climate change and lung health

On Wednesday, September 15, Axios’ health care reporter Caitlin Owens and climate and energy reporter Andrew Freedman hosted a virtual roundtable discussion with policy leaders, healthcare professionals, and environmental experts on the impact of climate change on people living with respiratory illnesses. 

Andrew Lindsley, Medical Director and Asset Lead at Amgen, started off the conversation by addressing the gravity of climate change as it relates to lung health and respiratory diseases.

  • “Climate change can directly cause or aggravate pre-existing respiratory diseases, and they can drive an increased exposure to risk factors associated with respiratory diseases, including asthma.”

National Assistant Vice President of Healthy Air at the American Lung Association, Laura Kate Bender, explained how recent research confirmed that devastating wildfires have negatively impacted air quality levels. 

  • “What we found is that we are continuing to see the impact of climate change on the quality of the air nationwide. Where that really showed up in this year’s report was with particle pollution. We saw more people were exposed to harmful short-term levels of particle pollution that we can tie back to the wildfires.”   

Executive Director of Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute, Dr. Gabriel Filippelli, referenced a study he conducted in several U.S. cities to highlight the connection between small vehicle transit usage and decreases in levels of NO2, a harmful lung irritant.  

  • “It shows a roadmap that with different transportation systems of different models or even electrifying vehicles, it can have a significant local improvement in air quality and also deal with climate change at the same time.” 

Abby Young, Manager of Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s Climate Protection Program, described how climate change especially exacerbates health issues among vulnerable populations.

  • “When a community is already suffering from a high degree of air pollution and respiratory ailments, and then you layer on all these impacts that we’re talking about from climate change, you make a bad situation even worse.”

Interim Director of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard T.H. Chan School for Public Health, Aaron Bernstein, emphasized the importance of broader social change in ensuring equitable access to healthcare. 

  • “My biggest hope in this year is that we realize that we can no longer work on issues related to climate or pandemics by trying to build more technological limbs on a tree of life. Through our technologies, our ventilation systems, our vaccines, our drugs. We obviously need those, they’re critical and we have to get people vaccinated, but as we’ve already shown, those things benefit the people who are least at risk first.”   

Research scientist at the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford University, Dr. Juan Aguilera, noted the importance of understanding the intricate make-up of particles that enter our lungs as air quality levels continue to fluctuate.

  • “We’re currently researching on what are the effects on the immune system, because as we breathe in these pollutants, it’s also important to notice what’s in the pollutants. We can no longer just focus on the size of the particle, we must know what’s in the particle and what are the effects on the respiratory system, the circulatory system, and the immune system. We’re getting to that point.” 

Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association, articulated the significance of focusing on vulnerable communities in mitigating the effects of climate change on a policy level. 

  • “We ought to recognize that the fact that we have these vulnerable communities and where they are, it’s not a secret. These are the same communities that have food insecurity, housing insecurity, income insecurity. While they may have been exposed to some degree because of wildfires that are broader in nature, in terms of polluting the air and floods that are now capturing the communities in which they live, we just have to remember that these communities, while everyone will experience them pretty much the same, these other communities are much less resilient, and they don’t recover.” 

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) acknowledged the crucial role that policymakers play in shaping the future of environmental policy, noting the opportunity and responsibility that lawmakers have to act quickly on the matter. 

  • “I, for one, will be working to ensure passage of the Build Back Better Act, it has this huge footprint that will implement provisions throughout the country and the state to be able to assure that the warming climate will be addressed.” 

Thank you Amgen for sponsoring this event. 

Biden calls Fox News reporter a "stupid son of a b---h" on hot mic

President Biden blasted Fox News' Peter Doocy on Monday after the reporter asked if the nation's soaring inflation is a political liability, saying, "what a stupid son of a b----h."

Driving the news: The Biden administration has faced rising inflation rates over recent months, which it has labeled as "transitory."