U.S., Australia Refuse to Pitch In as 27 Countries Pledge $9.8 Billion to Green Climate Fund
More than 27 countries, excluding the United States, promised US$9.8 billion to the United Nations Green Climate Fund (GCF) by the end of a two-day pledging conference last week in Paris, aimed at beginning the process of replenishing the badly-depleted fund.
Reuters says the total was slightly higher than the $9.3 billion the GCF raised at its first pledging conference in 2014, even though major donors like the U.S. failed to show up this time. Of the 27 donor governments that did contribute, 11 doubled their commitments. But it still wasn’t nearly enough.
“It’s quite clear we have governments all over the world declaring climate emergencies, and far more finance from all sources is needed to adequately address the challenge,” said World Resources Institute finance researcher Joe Thwaites.
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“The funding is still a drop in the ocean compared with the estimated $3 to $7 trillion a year needed to shift the world’s economy onto a more sustainable and climate-friendly path,” Reuters notes, citing GCF Executive Director Yannick Glemarec.
“This is a good start, but in no way adequate to meet the needs on the ground,” said Climate Action Network-Europe Director Wendel Trio. Heinrich Böll Foundation climate finance specialist Liane Schalatek said the new pledges were “probably not enough to give developing countries the confidence to significantly raise their ambition,” nor sufficient to fund 300 projects worth $15 billion that currently await GCF funding.
Oxfam International declared it “appalling” that the U.S. and Australia had failed to step up with new funds, while Climate Action Network-International said the two countries “have turned their backs on the world’s poorest and have once again isolated themselves in global efforts to respond to the climate emergency”. CAN-I also cited Canada, the Netherlands, Portugal, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Austria, and Belgium as countries that “failed to deliver their fair share” of the funds promised to the GCF, The Associated Press reports, though some news reports suggested Belgium will soon double its pledge.
Glemarec said the new funds would be enough to increase the GCF’s project investments from $1.4 to $2.4 billion per year between 2020 and 2024, adding that “we will most likely be able to find additional resources” before this year’s United Nations climate conference, COP 25, convenes in Chile in early December. At the UN climate meeting in Copenhagen in 2009, wealthy countries agreed to contribute $100 billion per year to climate finance beginning in 2020.
Leading into the conference, CARE International issued a call for a “strong replenishment” that would “help developing countries adequately prepare and respond to the impacts” of the climate emergency. “Developed countries have a moral and legal duty to provide funds for climate action to the poorest countries,” said Sven Harmeling, CARE’s global policy lead for climate change and resilience. “Building up a substantial Green Climate Fund to assist developing countries is necessary to ensure they can tackle the devastating climate impacts caused by the inaction of the rich.”
Oxfam Canada said “rich polluting countries” like Australia, Canada, The Netherlands, and the United States “are short-changing poor countries by billions of dollars that they need to cut emissions and adapt to the climate crisis”. It added that Canada, the U.S., and Austria had each contributed one-third of the funds that would meet their fair-share climate finance obligation.
“The Green Climate Fund is a lifeline for poor countries that need help to cut emissions and adapt to an increasingly erratic and extreme climate,” said Climate and Energy Advocacy Manager Armelle Le Comte. With global investment in fossil supply and power generation exceeding $933 billion last year, “we urge all rich countries to contribute their fair share—their support could be the difference between life and death for poor communities that are struggling to survive on the climate front line.”