Lives and livelihoods in vulnerable countries hang in the balance while rich countries bicker over who will disburse climate cash, argues Wendel Trio of Climate Action Network Europe.
Wendel Trio is the director of Climate Action Network Europe, a Brussels-based NGO network working on climate and energy issues.
"Recent media reports on the EU’s inability to find candidates for the Green Climate Fund points to a bigger problem with the politics of climate finance that is, sadly, not unique to the European Union.
On 10 April, the UN announced that the first meeting of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) would not take place later this month, as scheduled, because countries couldn’t agree who would sit on the board. As of the 31 March deadline, out of a total of 48 spots (including alternates), only four nominations for the board had been submitted.
The GCF, which is intended to provide cash to help developing countries adapt to climate change and cut emissions, was launched at December’s UN climate conference in Durban. Now, because of the hullaballoo over board membership, the inaugural meeting has been rescheduled for 31 May.
It’s clear that a place on the GCF board is seen as a coveted position. It is sadly ironic that countries are jockeying so madly to secure a spot on the board of a fund that is thus far sitting virtually empty.
Instead of bickering over the composition of the board, developed countries should be putting their efforts and energy into finding the $100 billion annually that has been promised for desperately needed climate funding in developing countries.
In particular, the EU should be tuning in to the needs of the countries with which it formed a newfound and successful coalition in Durban: the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs). These groups represent the countries that are now suffering from the effects of climate change and stand to gain the most vitally needed help from the GCF.
A few EU member states, including Germany and Denmark, have already contributed cash to help the GCF get started. We now need to see all member states making contributions, not just to get the fund started but also to fill it.
April represents a critical time for the EU’s work on the GCF, as informal meetings of finance ministers and experts were set for 18 April and the next UN climate negotiating session begins in Bonn in mid-May. This is not the time for infighting and individualism over climate change in the EU.
Right now we need the kind of united EU that we saw – and applauded - in Durban. The EU should honour its newly cemented Durban alliance by helping secure money for the fund, rather than contributing to the fracas over who should sit on the board.
The continued delays in getting the GCF up and running do not speak to the urgency of action required in developing countries to address the very real impacts of climate change.
We need to see progress on this issue in Bonn and a complete fund before the next Conference of Parties in Qatar in December. Let’s hope the EU will soon once again become a unified voice on this issue so we can get down to the real work of helping vulnerable countries cope with a changing climate."