Financing the IPCC: How Macron got away with spending so little

Hoesung Lee (R), chair of IPCC, meets with Christiana Figueres (L), executive secretary of the UNFCCC - the UN's framework against climate change. [Flickr]

France has made no announcements at COP23, except for financing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose operating budget varies between €5 and 8 million. EURACTIV France reports.

French President Emmanuel Macron was widely applauded on Wednesday (November 15) by state delegates at COP23, when he announced that France would fund the IPCC, the group of hundreds of scientists working to clarify climate science.

The work of the IPCC is indeed threatened in 2018 due to lack of funding after the United States refused to finance it. France has pledged to fill the missing balance.

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The work of the respectable and respected institution is certainly crucial but does not represent much: the operating budget of the Geneva-based organisation is between €5 and 8 million. And the share of the United States represents €2 million per year. That is 2% of the annual budget of the Élysée, the French Presidential palace.

The US’s  budget has not been voted yet, and some senators obviously want to reinstate the funding in the budget.

The IPCC, a crucial but small issue

Dozens of scientists collaborating on the project do so for free: they are paid by their respective research centres. The only cost of the organisation, hosted by the International Meteorological Organisation in Geneva, consists of organising conferences, financing hotel and air tickets especially for the participation of scientists from developing countries.

Thus, the IPCC meets from December 12 to 15 in Paris for an interim progress report on its next report, scheduled for October 2018. A highly anticipated collective work on the path to 1.5°C. Whose budget is estimated at €1.5 million. The report will mainly highlight the urgency for sectors still under-treated by climate negotiations, mainly agriculture and forestry.

In addition to France, the UK is committed to funding scientists, and other European countries should join them. It must be said that 195 countries, i.e. almost all countries in the world, are members of the IPCC, and therefore potential financers; but the United States accounted for nearly 40% of the funding.

“The IPCC president has been smiling again, he spent more time looking for funds than doing his work,” French Ecology Minister Nicola Hulot said on Thursday, adding that the United States left a hole in the budget of €7 million euros.

But the real US-shaped hole in the financing of climate action lies elsewhere. Indeed, billions of dollars are missing in the financing of adaptation to climate change.

The Green Climate Fund has identified 41 billion projects to finance, but only received $2 billion so far; and most importantly, the United States had committed $3 billion, currently missing.

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