Climate fund snags threaten to derail global warming battle

Insufficient cash is hampering the Green Climate Fund to help poor nations combat climate change, which is not working as efficiently as the urgency of global warming requires.

Insufficient cash is hampering a flagship international fund to help poor nations combat climate change, which is not working as fast and efficiently as the urgency of global warming requires, said former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The Green Climate Fund was established at UN climate talks in 2010 to channel a substantial portion of the US$100 billion per year wealthy nations had pledged to mobilize by 2020 for developing-world efforts to curb carbon emissions and weather the impacts of climate change.

Ban said that decisions by US President Donald Trump to withdraw his country from the 2015 Paris Agreement on global warming and to walk away from promises on climate finance jeopardized global commitments.

“I am deeply concerned that the GCF — while it has been really trying to work — has not been fully funded,” Ban said. “With the US pullout of this (Paris) climate agreement, we are not sure whether US$100 billion by 2020 will be met.”

Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama pledged US$3 billion to the GCF, but only US$1 billion of that funding has been delivered. Of a total of more than US$10 billion committed to the fund, since 2015 it has allocated about US$3.5 billion for projects in 78 countries to curb heat-trapping emissions and adapt to extreme weather and rising seas.

But the last meeting of its 24-member board in July was blocked by disputes over policies and governance, meaning no new projects were approved.

Ban, who is president of the Global Green Growth Institute, a GCF partner, described that result as “quite unfortunate.” Pressure is growing, including from the UN climate change chief, for the GCF to get back to business before  climate talks in Poland in December, to smooth negotiations on a rule book to implement the Paris Agreement.

Ban said the fund should focus on getting things done. “It should be more effective; it should be more agile,” he said. “Otherwise if you have to wait many months or years to get the funding, by that time we will miss the opportunity to mitigate and adapt (to climate change).”

According to the GCF, 31 projects backed by about US$1.4 billion of its funding are now being rolled out — from climate information services to reduce disasters in the Pacific island state of Vanuatu, to producing sustainable argan oil in Morocco.

Javier Manzanares, deputy executive director of the fund described the implementation figures as “stellar.”

He conceded the summer meeting was a “setback,” but said he was “confident that the board will find a way to solve these challenging discussions.”

At its next meeting in October, Manzanares is hoping projects worth up to US$1.3 billion will be approved, and about 15 new agencies accredited to lead work in the field.

Special Reports