Green Fund faces early cash
shortage By Stephen Leahy
DOHA - The new Green Climate Fund to help
developing countries cope with climate change may
one day have a bigger budget than the World Bank.
At the moment, however, the fund is empty. No
financial pledges have been made even though the
fund is supposed to begin dispensing money in
"Finance is at the heart of
negotiations here," said Oxfam International
climate change policy advisor Tim Gore on the
sidelines of the UN climate change negotiations at
the 18th meeting of the Conference of Parties to
the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change (COP 18), taking place in the capital of
Qatar until December 7.
"The issue has
come to a head in Doha. Developing countries are
bitter and saying rich industrialized countries
are once again
failing to deliver on
their promises," Gore told Tierramerica.
"The NGO community is calling on the COP
president to convene a special round-table on
finance next week during the high-level segment,"
Without that call by COP
president Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah of Qatar,
many ministers will arrive next week without the
authority to do anything on finance. "I doubt the
meeting will be successful without this," said
In 2009, at COP 15 in Copenhagen,
"developing countries bought into the sales pitch"
by industrialized countries that they would get
financial help beginning in 2013 and ramping up to
US$100 billion a year in new and additional
funding by 2020, said Gore. In exchange for
getting this Green Climate Fund - officially
adopted at the following COP, in Cancun - they
signed on to the Copenhagen Accord, a US-backed
voluntary emission reduction agreement.
This was a big compromise. Not only did
developing countries want a legally binding
agreement, they wanted larger emission reduction
commitments from industrialized nations, and they
wanted a lot more money to help them cope with the
impacts of climate change, said Gore.
bridge the gap between 2010 and 2012, developed
countries also agreed to a "Fast Start Finance"
programme of $30 billion.
But not all of
that promised money has been delivered, and most
of it was in the form of loans, not grants.
Moreover, much of the money was not new or
additional, but came out of development aid, said
Nithika Mwenda of the Pan African Climate Justice
Tracking a country's actual
contribution to Fast Start Finance and where the
money has come from is extremely complex, Mwenda
said in a press conference. The Green Climate Fund
must have clear reporting and verification
measures along with a forum to independently
oversee this, he said.
Should the promised
billions for the fund materialize, this might
simply be more bad news for the world's indigenous
peoples if the money goes into massive tree
plantations or mega-dams that end up displacing
local communities, said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, an
indigenous representative from the Philippines.
"We will be in big trouble if the money goes into
the wrong projects," Tauli-Corpuz told
The Green Climate Fund is
creating environmental and social safeguards
intended to prevent this. However, the involvement
of indigenous peoples and civil society is
The fund is run by a board of 24
representatives, 12 each from industrialized and
developing nations. There are four observers, two
for civil society and two for private industry.
Observers cannot vote and are often not allowed
inside the room where the board meets, said Mrinal
Kanti, a Tripura indigenous person from Bangladesh
who has attended meetings as an observer.
"We don't even get documents in advance.
That makes it very difficult for us to
participate," Kanti said at a COP 18 side event.
"Many board members are unaware of indigenous
Strong safeguards will also need
to be combined with monitoring and verification
and a "grievance" mechanism accessible to local
people should a Green Climate Fund-financed
project be having a negative impact, said Nira
Amerasinghe of the Centre for International
indigenous people is key. The draft rules are very
poor right now," Amerasinghe told delegates.
There is also a major issue around the
fund's governance. Industrialized countries want
the board to run it, while developing countries
think it should be under the United Nations
Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),
which gives every country an equal vote, said
"What is happening at this
COP is that rich countries are withholding pledges
to fund the Green Climate Fund to see what
concessions they can get from developing
countries," she said. "The biggest fight at most
of these COPs is over money," she added.
Costa Rica takes a different view. "We're
not waiting. Acting to reduce our emissions has
been very good for our economy," said Monica
Araya, a member of the Costa Rican negotiating
Since 1997 Costa Rica has been
working towards the goal of becoming
carbon-neutral by 2021. This small Central
American country is sometimes criticized by other
developing countries for taking ambitious steps
outside of the UNFCCC process.
"It is can
be frustrating here," Araya said in a press
briefing. "There is no question rich countries
should do more. But we have to find more countries
willing to compromise and put their national
interests aside. It is not well recognized, but
developing countries have made unprecedented
efforts to reduce emissions in 2012. We can do far
more, especially middle-income countries, if we
This story was
originally published by Latin American newspapers
that are part of the Tierramerica network.
Tierramerica is a specialized news service
produced by IPS with the backing of the United
Nations Development Programme, United Nations
Environment Programme and the World Bank.