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Green Climate Fund on Track to Reach $10 Billion Initial Target

China Daily Life - Pollution

The Green Climate Fund seems to be off to a decent start with funding pledges in place from various countries around the globe ahead of the recent first donors’ conference in Berlin (Germany). The Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) approved the governing instrument and the fund itself in 2011 in Durban (South Africa) recognizing that developing countries – most of them still in an early developmental stage and to date least responsible for the historical accumulation of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere – will be the most vulnerable and exposed to climate change.

Here, Suzanne Goldenberg of The Guardian puts it nicely writing that “[d]eveloping countries see the fund as an acknowledgement that the countries that did the least to cause climate change are likely to suffer the worst consequences.” Conversely, the establishment of this fund shows the developed nations’ commitment to provide often-needed substantial financial as well as technological assistance to developing countries thereby enabling them to cut their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions while also allowing them to strengthen their resilience to climate change through adaptation in the form of crucial infrastructure investments as well as upgrades.

In this respect, the Governing Instrument for the Green Climate Fund states:

“In the context of sustainable development, the Fund will promote the paradigm shift towards low-emission and climate-resilient development pathways by providing support to developing countries to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change, taking into account the needs of those developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. (…) The Fund will strive to maximize the impact of its funding for adaptation and mitigation, and seek a balance between the two, while promoting environmental, social, economic and development co-benefits and taking a gender-sensitive approach. (…) [The] purpose of the Fund is to make a significant and ambitious contribution to the global efforts towards attaining the goals set by the international community to combat climate change.”

This last point is crucial and is premised on the fact that our natural environment is a ‘global public good’, which essentially requires global cooperation in order to mitigate any damage to this environment caused by an equally global phenomenon – climate change. Obviously, international agreements – i.e. finding a meaningful common denominator among a plethora of national interests – are very difficult to reach. Therefore, this Green Climate Fund may just prove to bring both sides – developed and developing countries – closer together because it lays credence to the developing countries’ point of view. Note, the fact that climate change is a serious global problem is not contentious.

Leaders at the recent G20 summit in Brisbane reaffirmed their support for “mobilising finance for adaptation and mitigation, such as the Green Climate Fund”, and funding pledges started pouring in from Germany, France, Japan, the Netherlands, and the US. The latter increased its pledge from $2.5 billion to now $3 billion. All those pledges bring the Green Climate Fund closer towards its initial short-term $US 10 billion UN funding target.

climate fund

Source: Adam Vaughan on Twitter (Nov. 14), The Guardian. Click here to enlarge.

In this respect, it is very important to understand that those pledges are only the beginning and not meant to be one-time funds transfers. Just like tackling climate change is a generational and, therefore, long-term challenge, funding will have to be provided after 2020 on a yearly basis, which may cause trouble for many countries with unsustainable fiscal deficits and/or lack of respective long-term political will.

According to Bloomberg BNA, the “US and other developed nations pledged in the run-up to the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit that they would provide $100 billion annually in combined private and public money beginning in 2020.” This raises the question about the United States’ fair share to this long-term financing endeavor. Remember, the US Congress passes the necessary appropriation bill.

Equally important is whether developing countries – especially China with a sufficiently large economy and a huge build-up in official foreign reserves – should be diplomatically encouraged to make ‘adequate’ contributions according to respective capabilities and self-perceived international standing. The Governing Instrument for the Green Climate Fund may offer an opening in this respect: “ The Fund will receive financial inputs from developed country Parties to the Convention. The Fund may also receive financial inputs from a variety of other sources, public and private, including alternative sources.”

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