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$100 Billion UN Climate Fund In Doubt

Elizabeth Douglass, InsideClimate News

Faith in the Green Climate Fund, the finance arm long believed to hold a key to achieving a global climate change accord in Paris in December, is beginning to wane.

The financing vehicle is supposed to be the primary distributor of tens of billions of dollars in climate aid to help the world’s poorest countries deal with climate change caused primarily by the actions of others. It was designed to help heal the deep divisions between rich and poor nations that have long dimmed hopes for a meaningful global warming solution.

But with just one more board meeting to go before the Paris climate talks begin, the money it has to work with is not close to what’s needed, the $3 billion contribution from the United States is looking iffy, and the fund has partnered with several financial institutions that developing nations distrust.

Here’s a guide to the Green Climate Fund and where it stands:

What It Is

As part of the 2009 Copenhagen Accord, wealthy nations promised to direct at least $100 billion per year in private and public climate aid to poor and vulnerable countries beginning in 2020. The Green Climate Fund was created by United Nations climate negotiators a year later to be the main conduit for a large portion of that $100 billion.

The fund is based in the South Korean city of Songdo, and it functions as an arm of the UN’s Conference of Parties. So far, it has pledges for $10.2 billion. All 130-plus developing countries that are parties to the UN climate convention are eligible to receive the money, but the emphasis is on assistance to small-island developing states, African states and the 48 countries classified as least-developed.

To secure the trust of the poor countries that are wary of the World Bank and many other development banks, the fund’s mandate was to operate differently by giving recipient countries far more say in what kind of projects get pursued. Board representation is split evenly between developing and developed countries. In addition, the fund pledged to spend half of its money on adaptation projects, which tend to receive less money from development banks and other traditional funders.

Why It Matters

The Green Climate Fund takes aim at a fundamental conflict at the heart of the climate talks: the rift between rich and poor nations. Poorer nations are already feeling the effects of global warming and can’t afford to invest in projects that will help them survive what’s yet to come. Those climate effects were caused mostly by the historical emissions from United States and other wealthy nations. For that reason, the poorest and most vulnerable countries have made it clear that they will not sign off on any climate treaty without adequate financial assistance from developed countries.

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