Politics of Poverty

Rich countries pledge $9.3 billion for global response to climate change

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Ricardina Sune Llasa holds a thermometer used at a weather station in the Peruvian highlands. From 2009-2012, Oxfam America supported rural indigenous people in the mountainous region of Espinar, Peru to become more resilient in the face of rainfall shortages, extreme cold, and other life-threatening consequences of climate change and to monitor weather data to respond to climate-related emergencies. Groups like these in Peru could utilize additional financial and technical support. Photo: Percy Ramírez / Oxfam America

The Green Climate Fund gains momentum with donor announcements, but is it enough?

Annaka Peterson Carvalho is the Senior Program Officer of the Adaptation Finance Accountability Initiative, led by the World Resources InstituteOverseas Development Institute, and Oxfam.

Today the Green Climate Fund held its first official pledging conference. As part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), donor country representatives gathered in Berlin and promised money to help developing countries shift toward low-emission and climate-resilient development.  So what promises did they make?

Total pledges from developed countries were along the lines of what Oxfam anticipated. The Green Climate Fund’s current tally is $9.3 billion based on pledges announced in Berlin today. This puts us just shy of the $10 billion minimum floor that countries and civil society have called for, and nowhere near the $15 billion that many developing countries had asked for. But it’s a start!

The good news:

  • It’s a positive first step.
  • Most of the countries will provide grant contributions. (Only France said it will contribute loans.)
  • Mongolia and Panama joined Mexico and Korea in pledging to the Fund, showing that countries are committed to breaking down the traditional dividing lines between developed and developing countries
  • Norway made it clear their pledge was “additional.”

Who needs to step up to the plate still?

  • Notably Australia, Canada, Belgium, Austria, Ireland, and a handful of other countries.

Who contributed more than their fair share of $15bn needed for the Green Climate Fund?

  • Sweden – more than three times their fair share.
  • UK – just a little more accordingly to my calculations.
  • Developing countries that don’t technically have an obligation under the UNFCCC for now.

Gold Stars!

But the devil is found in the details:

  • A portion of France’s pledge will be loans, so the grant equivalent of their pledge will be significantly lower.
  • The US has plans to target an unspecified amount of their contribution to the Private Sector Facility. Others, like the UK, may also seek to earmark their contributions.
  • A number of the pledges are also subject to further approval – Sweden, Japan, Finland, the US – so they may not be able to deliver the entirety of their pledge.
  • Do the pledges actually represent a scale-up of overall climate finance? Who knows!?

While this is an important start for the Green Climate Fund, at the end of the day developed countries will need to do more if climate finance is to become a building block of the 2015 agreement and not a stumbling block.

What I heard in Berlin, including my own calculations based on today’s exchange rate:



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