Green Climate Fund out of reach for poorest countries

Many small island states may need help accessing the Green Climate Fund. [Daily Sublime/Flickr]

Three months after its launch, the Green Climate Fund is not accessible to the countries that need it most. EURACTIV France reports.

Access to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), a mechanism designed to help developing countries adapt to the challenges of climate change, is proving hard to come by for the least advanced countries and the small island states.

Pacific islands demand easier access to climate finance

SPECIAL REPORT / “The waves will not wait for the funding to be allocated before flooding our islands,” the small islands of the Pacific have warned. But climate finance is often beyond their reach. EURACTIV France reports

The Fund has been operational for three months. But for many small island states, as well as certain African countries, accessing the money poses real problems, as they lack the expertise and government structures needed to complete the necessary procedures.

The Green Climate Fund’s not-so-green partners

The first projects of the Green Climate Fund have been approved. But the Fund’s credibility has been tarnished by agreements with commercial banks involved in coal projects, like Deutsche Bank. EURACTIV France reports.

A number of financial and development institutions have already gained access to the Fund, including Deutsch Bank and the French Development Agency (AFD).

Supporting the most vulnerable countries

To address this systematic weakness, the Green Climate Fund has established a mechanism to facilitate the access of the most vulnerable countries to climate finance. On 6 March, the Cook Islands became the first small island state to receive help in accessing the GCF… from the Fund itself.

“This latest operation proves that the Green Climate Fund is helping countries of all sizes and from all regions to access subsidies,” said Héla Cheikhrouhou, the executive director of the Green Climate Fund.

INFOGRAPHIC: Green Climate Fund – where is the money?

The Green Climate Fund, which is the UN’s main instrument to transfer money to developing countries, in order to assist them in countering climate change, was launched in 2009 with the aim of raising climate finance of $100 billion a year by 2020. A substantial amount is expected to be raised in the run-up to the 2015 climate summit in Paris.

The Cook Islands will receive a total of $150,000 to help with its accreditation process. Three African countries, among the least developed in the world, are also due to receive the same aid.

“The Cook Islands are very happy to be the first Pacific country to receive help from the GCF,” said Elizabeth Wright-Koteka, the director of the cabinet of the Cook Islands’ prime minister. “This is a fund we campaigned for, as a country that is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change,” she added.

Great hopes in the Global South

With promised donations of $10.2 billion from Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany and France, among others, the GCF is a great source of hope for the countries of the Global South.

First announced at the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009, many developing countries hoped the Fund would bring access to new resources for climate change adaptation. But the initial capitalisation of the Fund, which began in October 2014, has been slow to take off.

The GCF hopes to start its operation by distributing $2.5 billion this year. But with projects worth only $168 million approved so far, this objective still looks a long way out of reach.

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“Will the Green Climate Fund be solid enough to achieve its objectives?” asked Pierre Cannet, the head of the climate and energy programme at WWF.

A series of teething problems and a lack of personnel may make 2016 a difficult first year for the Fund. “20 bodies have already been accredited and during its meeting of 8 to 10 March, the GCF council should approve a further 13 agents,” he added.

A change at the top

The planned departure of the Fund’s executive director, Héla Cheikhrouhou, after three years at the head of the institution, is another potential stumbling block to be overcome. Her succession will also be discussed by the institution’s council this week.

International negotiations on climate change began in 1992, and the UN organises an annual international climate change conference called the Conference of the Parties, or COP.

Paris hosted the all-important 21st conference, from 30 November to 11 December 2015. The participating states reached an agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, the object of which was to reduce CO2 emissions between 2008 and 2012.

The Green Climate Fund was created during the climate conference in Durban (South Africa) in 2011. The objective for developed countries was to raise $100 billion a year by 2020. An initial capitalisation objective has been fixed at $15 billion for the next three years. This money will be used to help poorer countries to limit their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change.

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