The Green Climate Fund (GCF) "pledging conference" has ended today in Berlin with USD9.4 billion being pledged in support climate action in developing countries.
New, significant pledges were made by Italy (USD313mn) and the UK (USD1.1bn), as well as an updated amount from Norway (USD130mn). Even developing nation Mongolia tabled USD50,000 adding to efforts announced earlier this year by Mexico and Peru. This has left developed countries who refused to step up to their obligation, such as Australia, Austria, Belgium and Ireland, increasingly isolated on the world stage. There were expectations that Canada and Poland would put money on the table today but they didn't make the deadline for the conference.
While it is disappointing that the the total amount heading for GCF coffers falls just short of the unofficial target of USD10 and well under the USD15 billion in contributions for the initial phase that developing countries have asked for, it is good news that the GCF can now get down to its real work – supporting efforts of countries around the world to scale up the roll out of renewable energy, adapt communities to climate impacts and develop sustainably.
Wealthy countries, who have been responsible for causing climate change, have an obligation to put money on the table to help poorer countries take climate action. Doing so will help to build trust between countries as we near a new international agreement to limit climate change due in December 2015 in Paris. USD10-15 billion to be spent over four years may sound like a lot, but it's just one third of the amount made available after the Copenhagen Summit, in the "Fast Start Finance" period. And with all countries now expected to take climate action under the new international agreement due next year, this fund needs to support climate projects in over 100 nations over four years.
The work does not stop here. Countries who haven't yet put money on the table for the GCF have until the major UN climate negotiations of the year get underway in Lima next month to step up. Those that have already pledged can confirm there's no strings attached to their commitments. To encourage more pledges, countries can decide to include financial support for climate action as part of their national contributions towards the new international agreement.
What's more, the GCF has to keep growing in size, but also in transparency and effectiveness. By the time the new international agreement on climate change is slated to come into effect in 2020, it should command a significant portion of the USD100 billion a year in climate action financing rich countries committed to back in 2009. To get there, countries will need to put together a climate action finance pathway – requiring some innovative thinking, new sources of money, and a plan to scale up existing sources such as an annual target under the new agreement.