The Green Climate Fund (GCF) Pledging Conference concluded in Paris on Friday, October 25, 2019 with pledges now totaling $9.7 billion.
By doubling on their initial contribution to the GCF, a handful of developed countries signaled they are ready to take responsibility in tackling the climate emergency, but observers believe that majority of contributor countries should have come to the table with much more.
In particular, Canada, the Netherlands, Portugal, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Austria and Belgium failed to deliver their fair share and will probably have to bridge the shortfall as a matter of urgency – with the UN climate meeting COP25 in Santiago in Chile this December looking like an opportunity to do so.
The Climate Action Network (CAN) states that, with their decision to withhold funding to the GCF, the governments of the United States and Australia may have turned their backs on the world’s poorest and have once again isolated themselves in global efforts to respond to the climate emergency.
“This $9.7 billion for the next four years will allow the GCF to continue pursuing its mandate by funding adaptation and mitigation projects in developing countries and supporting the most vulnerable communities.
“Millions of people, particularly in the developing world, are already facing the limits of adaptation. While the overall funding needed to transform our societies to avert climate and ecological breakdown runs into trillions of dollars, every dollar matters in the worsening climate emergency.
“We urge countries to continue to generously fill the Fund through the entire replenishment period. As we enter a milestone year in implementing the Paris Agreement in 2020, we must renew global efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C. Fair, transparent and predictable finance is hardwired into principles of equity and is critical to unlock conditionalities in national climate plans and ramp up climate targets in 2020,” said the group.
CAN members and partners have also reacted to the development.
Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, says: “Several European countries set the bar high and threw real money on the table. This is a good start but in no way adequate to meet the needs on the ground. Countries who pledged below their fair share and failed to live up to their obligations must urgently top up their contributions. All countries who have not pledged so far need to put money on the table as soon as possible, to help the poorest countries scale up their climate targets in 2020.”
Lidy Nacpil, Coordinator of the Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development and GCF Active Observer for Developing Countries: “We need to remind many governments we are in a climate emergency. We know it, we live it, and many in the South barely survive the devastating impacts of the crisis we did not create. While we welcome this new set of contributions to the Green Climate Fund, we would like to remind developed countries of the US$ 100 billion annual target they have committed to. The amount pledged as of today is very far from the $100 billion and much farther away from what is actually needed to finance urgent climate actions in developing countries that are needed not only by people of the South but by the whole world.
“For years, we as CSO Active Observers in the GCF, have been calling developed country governments to meet their obligations, raise their ambitions and scale up their contributions. They should at least double their pledges at the GCF Replenishment process. It is outrageous and unjust that some governments, like the US and Australia, refuse to acknowledge their fair share of obligations and pledge to the Green Climate Fund. In stark contrast, they continue to be heavily invested in the fossil fuel industry. They are even asking developing countries to contribute, shifting the responsibility to those who have contributed the least to the climate crisis.”
Armelle Le Comte, Oxfam International: “The pledges made today send an important signal that wealthy countries should help the developing world face the growing perils of climate change. It is particularly encouraging that a range of countries including Norway, Sweden, Germany, the UK or France will double their contributions compared with the previous financing phase. This allows the fund to continue its important mission to assist developing countries in adapting to worsening climate impacts.
“However, it is appalling that Australia and the US have failed to provide any funding at all, and many other nations have announced pledges well below their fair share. Millions of people around the world are already facing hunger, homelessness and extreme poverty because of the climate crisis. Oxfam urges wealthy countries that have not pledged anything or remain far below their fair share to increase their contributions ahead of the COP25 climate summit in December.”
Liane Schalatek, Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Washington, DC and GCF CSO Active Observer for Developed Countries: “While the Paris pledging conference in 2019 delivered slightly more than the Berlin pledging conference four years ago during the initial resource mobilization just weeks before the COP21 delivered Paris Agreement, it is probably not enough to give developing countries the confidence to significantly raise their ambition in revised Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for COP26. Granted, mostly European countries had to try to make up for the absence of the United States and Australia this time around, and some countries like Sweden or Norway contributed commensurate with a fair share. But financial ambition to match the ambition in climate action needed looks different.
“With more than $15 billion in project proposals waiting in the GCF pipeline, a doubling of the overall IRM available funds should have been possible — and maybe it still is. It is therefore important for those countries that have sat the Paris meeting out, or that have disappointingly underpledged (such as Canada, Portugal or the Netherlands) to realise that they have the responsibility and opportunity to come back, and to come back bigger, during the first replenishment period until the end of 2023, and to also invite new, first time contributors. The Paris pledging conference must be only the starting point, and not the stopping point.
“A consideration of what is a fair share pledge by developed countries for financial inputs for GCF-1 must be matched by equity and fairness considerations in discussion about who should benefit most from the mobilised GCF finance. Equity must complement impact, scale, quality and efficiency as guiding benchmarks for programming under GCF-1. Therefore a four-year strategic plan for the GCF must commit to pursue best practices for human-rights centered, inclusive, gender-responsive climate investment approaches that pursue multiple benefits combining climate and development objectives.
Sven Harmeling, Global Policy Lead on Climate Change and Resilience, CARE International: “The $10 billion pledged today at the Green Climate Fund Replenishment Conference will provide substantial support to the most vulnerable countries and can help advance gender justice. This is urgently needed in light of the growing harm caused by the climate crisis. However, this amount needs to be increased to at least $15 billion so that developing countries can address the climate impacts caused by the inaction of the rich. Countries who have failed to double their previous contributions must step up now. And countries, like the US, Australia, and Russia, who remain silent, must no longer neglect their responsibility and commit to help poor countries address the climate emergency.”
Eddy Pérez, Climate Action Network Canada: “The Green Climate Fund today has been able to achieve, without the help of the US and Australia and with a little help from countries like Canada, an important outcome by getting rich contributor countries to pledge $10 billion for the GCF’s first replenishment. These funds are essential to help developing countries enhance their NDCs and shift economies in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Canada’s recent elected government has committed itself to acting to respond to the climate emergency and that it will be its main priority in the coming months. Canada should use COP25 to announce that it intends to revise its contribution to GCF and at least double it.”
Lucile Dufour, International Policy Advisor, Climate Action Network France: “Thanks to the $9.7 billion committed today, the Green Climate Fund will keep playing its key role in supporting the full implementation of the Paris Agreement. A few contributor countries, including France, lived up to the challenge by doubling their promise to the fund. But with growing impacts of climate change all over the world, we still expect every single contributor country do its fair share by supporting the transition towards 0 carbon and resilient societies in developing countries. Ahead of COP25 and by 2020, we urge them to scale up their finance commitments in order to meet the $100 billion target. These efforts will be critical to unlock ambition at the scale needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C.”
Niranjali Amerasinghe, Executive Director, ActionAid USA: “The $9.7 billion pledged to the Green Climate Fund will allow the fund to continue its important work but is nowhere near the level of ambition that is needed. Although several countries doubled their previous contributions, many others did not step up. The United States and Australia, in particular, are falling short on their obligations to provide climate finance to developing countries.
“With scores of people dead from massive flooding in South Asia and from devastating cyclones in Mozambique and Southern Africa – this year’s climate disasters are the new normal in vulnerable countries. These countries need immediate support from the international community, at an order of magnitude greater than what is currently on the table. We are in a climate emergency and these funds are desperately needed to cope and recover from the impacts that are already happening, and to transition to just, climate-friendly economies.”
Erika Lennon, Senior Attorney, Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL): “The $9.7 billion pledged to the Green Climate Fund today as part of the first replenishment process was an important step; however, it is far below the amount needed to address the climate crisis. While several countries demonstrated their commitment to the Fund by pledging more than they did four years ago, even many of these are far from their fair share. And then you have real laggards like the United States and Australia that have completely shirked their responsibility by refusing to pledge any money at all.
“The climate crisis demands urgent, ambitious action and the funding necessary to undertake it. Today’s pledging conference was merely the first moment in the replenishment process, and countries should take every opportunity, including at COP25, to make a pledge or to increase the ones made today.”