Summit prompts modest donations to climate fund


Ban Ki-moon thanked world leaders for their leadership and commitment on climate change.[UNclimatechange/Flickr]

The UN Climate Summit prompted some developed countries to contribute to the Green Climate Fund, whose coffers had remained empty since its launch. But the amount of money pledged is still a long way off from what is required. EURACTIV France reports.

If the United Nations conference on 23 September acted as a catalyst for donations, its effect remains small.

According to the UN, $1.15 billion (€902 million) were pledged at the New York summit, raising the total fund to $2.3 billion (€1.8 billion). Germany had been the most generous donor in the run-up to the conference, with a pledge of $1 billion (€785 million).

Despite this positive start, the Green Climate Fund’s target of $15 billion for the next three years, set by developing countries, is a long way from being achieved.

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, reminded the 130 national leaders present at the conference that “the promise made in Copenhagen to mobilise 100 billion dollars a year must be kept”.

The multilateral fund was established following the Copenhagen and Cancun agreements, and aims to centralise funding for adaptation and reduction of emissions in developing countries. To fund this ambitious project, numerous developed countries have promised to collectively donate $100 billion per year by 2020, a large part of which should go to the Green Climate Fund.

A crucial condition

Beyond the fund’s 2020 objectives, the initial capitalisation of $15 billion expected by developing countries is crucial for the success of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, where an international agreement for limiting climate change is due to be struck.

>> Read: Warsaw breaks ranks with Poland on 2030 climate goals

The pivotal role of France in the climate negotiations pushed President François Hollande to announce a large contribution to the Green Climate Fund. “France will donate 1 billion dollars over the coming years,” the President announced at the opening of the general assembly. The French Ministry of Finance says this contribution will be spread out between 2015 and 2018, but it is as yet unclear where the money will come from.

“A large part of this money will come from tax on financial transactions,” Paris confirmed. “But the breakdown between loans and donations will be decided in the coming weeks.”

The French President said that in order to find effective solutions for the climate, “we must first make policy for development, against poverty, against insecurity, against the inequalities of the world”.  

“Our aim should be clear […] to keep the temperature rise to below 2 degrees. We are aware that this is a considerable challenge,” he added, reminding the conference that “global CO2 levels reached a new record high last year”.

The much anticipated announcement of France’s 1 billion dollar (€776 million) contribution to the Green Climate Fund received a lukewarm reaction from NGOs.

Oxfam France’s spokesperson Romain Benicchio described it as “a timid first step that may prove insufficient to create the dynamic of ambitious capitalisation that will allow us to reach the target of 15 billion dollars in the next three years”.

>> Read: Green Climate Fund meets amid cash problems

European commitment

Other European countries have also announced contributions to the fund, even if they are more modest.

Denmark announced the allocation of a further $70 million (€55 million), making its contribution worth $350 million (€274 million) since 2010.

Luxembourg promised a contribution of €5 million and the Czech Republic pledged $5.5 million (€4.3 million) over a two year period, while both Finland and Italy have mentioned “significant” contributions without giving precise figures.

Other countries that are expected to be big contributors to the Green Climate Fund, notably the United Kingdom and the US, also declined to specify the extent of their donations.

José Manuel Barroso, also present at the conference, announced no donations to the fund, as contributions from the EU will come from the individual member states, not from Brussels.

The European Commission President did, however, announce a $3 billion EU fund to combat climate change in developing countries, which, it is hoped, will stimulate between €15 and €30 billion of loans and investment capital.

>> Read: EU snubs Green Climate Fund, France pledges to contribute

“The European Union has been at the forefront of efforts in the global struggle against climate change,” the Commission President said. “The European Commission proposed the ambitious objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, compared to 1990,” Barroso added, insisting he was “optimistic” about negotiations between the leaders of the 28 member states at the October summit.

Private sector initiatives

If capitalisation efforts for the Green Climate Fund have got off to a shaky start, the private sector has come out strongly in favour of green investment. Several private banks have promised to issue green bonds worth $20 billion, and the insurance sector has also promised to double its green investments to $82 billion in 2015.

In his closing address, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said "today's summit has shown that we can rise to the climate challenge. I thank you for your leadership and commitment".

"[President Hollande’s] announcement of a contribution of 1 billion dollars, or 776 million euro, is a timid first step that may prove insufficient to create the dynamic of ambitious capitalisation that will allow us to reach the target of 15 billion dollars in the next three years. Unless François Hollande confused the dollar and the euro?" Oxfam France’s spokesperson Romain Benicchio said. "There are too many unanswered questions on the details of the [French] contribution to make a definitive assessment. The real question is whether this really is a new financial package or if other French charitable commitments will suffer as a result. It should also be ensured that these funds be distributed exclusively as donations, and not, in any part, as loans," he added.

"Leaders in New York, including US President Barack Obama, acknowledged they can no longer act against the will of the people. And on the weekend, the will of the people was made profoundly clear. Mums and dads, people of faith, progressive business leaders, union members and youth - all are already taking action in massive numbers, and they expect Heads of Government to join them and do more, now." Climate Action Network director Wael Hmaidan said. "Government leaders have the choice to lead the orderly transformation of our societies or to end up on the wrong side of history".

The Green Climate Fund was created during the conference in Durban (South Africa) in 2011 with the aim of raising 100 billion dollars a year by 2020.An initial capitalisation objective has been fixed at 15 billion dollars for the next three years

The Fund is based in South Korea and administered by a council of 24 members, representing developed and developing countries equally.

This money is destined to help poorer countries limit their greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the effects of climate change.

But three years on, with the Paris Climate Conference just around the corner, the Fund is still struggling to fill its coffers.

  • 23-24 October 2014: EU leaders to discuss 2030 Energy and Climate package and adopt a joint position for the Paris climate summit in 2015
  • November 2014: special meeting of Green Climate Fund donors
  • December 2014: 20th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Lima, Peru
  • March 2015: target date for the receipt of contributions from each member state for the Paris conference
  • December 2015: 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) - Paris Climate Change Conference 2015

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