Climate: The ‘polluter pays’ principle resurfaces

The Green Climate Fund's 74th project aims to optimise resources for agriculture in Namibia.

Faced with the challenges of the Green Climate Fund, researchers at the World Resources Institute (WRI) are formulating a series of new proposals. These start with indexing every country’s past and present contributions to CO₂ emissions. EURACTIV France reports.

The “polluter pays” concept is simple but effective. Despite the range of funds, institutions and international banks are now involved in financing the fight against climate change, this idea has never been applied to the climate change issue. Two researchers are proposing these changes, starting with the Green Climate Fund.

As a consequence of America’s withdrawal from the scheme, the Green Climate Fund – which implements Northern countries’ commitment to fund adaptation to and the fight against climate change in the Southern countries – is underfunded. This is because the United States have only paid $1 billion of the $3 billion they had originally promised.

The fund is also facing major governance problems, while the equal North/South composition of its board tends to lead to endless debates.

These are problems that could be solved if the Fund benefitted from visibility of its resources, which would defuse the tensions. In order to do this, the researchers are proposing a formula which incorporates GDP, cumulative CO₂ emissions and per capita emissions.

The Green Climate Fund- a focal point of climate negotiation tensions

At a time when a series of international meetings on the climate is beginning, the funding tool for climate projects between the North and the South is facing governance problems. EURACTIV France reports.

“This criterion isn’t yet commonly used. But it has the advantage of bringing transparency and objectivity: the amounts replenished in the fund would be based on objective data,” explained Jacob Waslander, one of the report’s authors and an expert on the Green Climate Fund.

The specialist is proposing that the CO₂ emissions accumulated between 1850 and 1990 are used as a basis for the calculations. He also suggests incorporating emissions over the last six years compared to GDP.

A more expensive bill for North America and Australia

According to this premise, some countries’ past contributions to the Green Climate Fund seem small: during the first call for funds, Canada contributed $277 million and should, based on the calculations, now contribute a figure of $842 million. As for the United States, which had committed to provide $3 billion out of a total of $10.3 billion, their amount would go up to $4.6 billion. For its part, Australia would have to pay an additional $400 million.

In contrast, Germany, France, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom have comparatively contributed too much in relation to their past emissions. These countries are described as the “leaders on climate” because of their key position in the discussion.

Another possibility could be to make the G20 members contribute, which for instance would include China, Russia and Saudi Arabia, who are not currently contributors.

Bonn negotiations stall on climate finance

The Bonn Climate Conference (30 April-10 May) has made little progress on negotiations, particularly on the subject of financing. As a result, a supplementary preparatory meeting for the COP24 will be held in Bangkok in September. EURACTIV.fr reports.

Problematic governance

Regarding governance issues blocking the fund’s functioning, the WRI suggests maintaining the North/South parity which makes the fund unique. This parity is “terribly important for the developing countries and is part of the dynamics of climate negotiations,” Waslander said.

“The point of views of Chad and Mali on the climate issue are just as valuable as those of the Northern countries,” the specialist believed.

In the absence of consensus, Waslander nevertheless recommends having a voting system where a minimum majority would be required within both the Northern and Southern group in order to adopt decisions.

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