Policy

Global climate fund: open promises, closed purses

M Ramesh Chennai | Updated on January 23, 2018

Against a target of $100 billion by 2020, the Fund has so far raised only $5.5 billion

Even when it was agreed upon in 2010, it was considered inadequate. Nations were to pool in money into the Green Climate Fund, the financial mechanism of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in such numbers as to reach $100 billion by 2020.

Pittance, said developing countries, but accepted it in the spirit of ‘anything helps’.

Five years to go, the Fund has received pledges to the tune of $10.2 billion. And they are only promises—the actual amount received is $5.5 billion. The Fund is meant to transfer financial resources from developed countries—which have historically polluted the planet during their own development phase—to the developing countries, which need assistance to wean themselves away from low-cost but polluting development options.

At the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin earlier this month, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar raised the issue of funding and called for more clarity on the sources of funding to meet the $100 billion target. This issue is expected to figure in both the Bonn Climate Change Conference next month and the UN Conference on Climate Change (Conference of Parties) in Paris, in December.

Big promise, no delivery

Japan, which pledged $1.5 billion, has paid the amount in full. Germany pledged $750 million, but put in a billion dollars. The US, the world’s biggest polluter, has pledged to give $3 billion to the Fund, but hasn’t contributed anything so far.

Even outside funding, the support from the US for climate change mitigation has been shaky.

On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled US Senate voted in favour of an $8 billion oil pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the US, rejecting the opposition of the Democrats and environmental groups to the project.

The Senate vote supported the Republican position that while climate change is real, it is not true that human beings are the cause for it. This position flies in the face of scientific opinion on global warming. A 2013 report titled ‘Turn down the heat: why a 4 degree warmer world should be avoided’ of the World Bank-Potsdam Institute says 95 per cent of the global scientific community agrees that human beings are the prime cause for climate change.

In its commitment to reduce emissions (called ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’), the US had pledged to cut emissions by 26-28 per cent over 2005 levels, which is 15-17 per cent over the 1990 levels. (The year 1990 is believed to be a better baseline.)

“All estimates show that to meet the ‘2 degree Celsius’ target, the US’ emissions should be at least 50-60 per cent below the 1990 levels, considering its historical responsibility of causing climate change and its present capability of solving it,” says Sunita Narain, Director-General of the think-tank, Centre for Science and Environment.

Published on May 27, 2015

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