Rich nations fail to show the money at Green Climate Fund Pledging Summit

5 October 2023

Today, rich nations committed in total pledged about 9.3 billion USD at the Green Climate Fund Pledging Summit in Bonn. Overall, the commitments are underwhelming against the scale of what is needed amidst the urgency of climate impacts that are hitting vulnerable communities in developing countries.
Polluter nations failed to deliver their fair-share with Australia, Switzerland, Italy and Sweden claiming to make pledges later and the USA failing to even do that and offering nothing. While the pledging summit provided an opportunity for countries to raise their commitments on finance, it is critical that countries continue to come forward and make new and increased pledges ahead of COP28.   

Reactions from civil society groups:

Harjeet Singh, Head of Global Political Strategy, Climate Action Network International:
“The Green Climate Fund (GCF), envisioned as the lifeline for climate action in developing nations, is held back by the indifference of wealthy countries. The world’s vulnerable populations face an escalating climate crisis, with their path to a sustainable future undeservedly delayed. The GCF is central to the climate finance structure and warrants funding commensurate with its importance. It’s vital to underscore that public finance is key to ensuring vulnerable nations receive the support they need, particularly for boosting adaptation efforts.

“While Ireland’s 150% pledge increase is praiseworthy, the tepid commitments—or outright stagnation—from nations such as Japan and Norway are deeply concerning. Some countries, like Sweden, seem to sidestep their obligations by urging developing nations to contribute to the Fund. The silence of the United States, even as it participates on the GCF Board and shapes policies without meeting its financial obligations, is glaring and inexcusable.

“With COP28 on the horizon, the GCF replenishment conference has fallen short of expectations. However, it’s important to remember that nations are not restricted to making pledges only during set intervals; they can and should step forward with contributions at any time to support climate action.”

Stephen Cornelius, Global Deputy Lead Climate and Energy, WWF International:
“The elephant in the room of every discussion on climate action is the lack of resources to bring plans to fruition, especially for vulnerable countries. We know from the new UN report that 50% of debt increase in vulnerable countries is now related to funding disaster recoveries.
“So while the pledging conference showed promise, it did not reach the levels for climate funding that the world needs.

To show up at the UN climate talks without the necessary scaled-up finance is a worrying indication that governments are not backing their words with actions. Rich countries must reflect deeply on this in the weeks before COP28 because this happens as news that, globally, September was around 1.75°C warmer than pre-industrial levels. We cannot delay providing the finance needed to accelerate climate action.”

Erika Lennon, Senior Attorney, Climate & Energy, Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL):
“The climate crisis worsens with each and every year. Many policy-makers from countries who have done the most to cause the climate crisis talk a big game about wanting to keep temperature rise to below 1.5°C, yet this rhetoric is not backed up with action. Instead many have continued to fuel the climate crisis by supporting oil and gas projects. 

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) provides critical support to developing countries for human rights compatible mitigation and adaptation, but it cannot do that without necessary billions from developed countries. Despite the small increases announced by many countries pledging finance today, the overall amount pledged to the GCF is nowhere near commensurate with the urgency this crisis and climate justice demands.

And once again the largest historic emitter and ongoing supporter of the fossil fuels driving the climate crisis, the United States, which still owes $1 billion from the GCF’s initial resource mobilization, has failed in its responsibility to provide the finance needed to address the crisis it’s largely caused. Today’s pledging conference cannot be the last word on GCF funding for the next four years, and countries must increase their climate finance ahead of COP28 and beyond.” 

Liane Schalatek, Associate Director, Heinrich Böll Foundation Washington DC :
“Today’s pledging conference for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) – with fewer contributors and less commitments than hoped for and needed for the world’s biggest multilateral climate fund – shows that developed countries are still not doing their part to help developing countries and affected people and communities with urgent climate actions.
We need a better signal of ambition for COP28 and the new climate finance goal under negotiation. The good news: pledging for the GCF-2 is ongoing – so still time to come in, come back and step up to scale up!”

Tara Daniel, Senior Program Manager, Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO):
“Today, Parties missed a pivotal opportunity for developed countries to walk the talk regarding their commitments to combating the climate crisis. As the flagship fund for implementing the Paris Agreement, one that prioritizes adaptation as much as mitigation, and governed more equitably than multilateral development banks, the GCF is central to our collective efforts to achieve transformative climate action.

The GCF’s approaches to human rights, gender equality, and country ownership must be strengthened and encouraged. Unfortunately, the pledging conference today showed that while climate impacts continue to increase, collective climate finance through the GCF has not increased. Today’s pledges do not put us on track to eclipse the pledges from 2019. The US in particular has failed to put any money where its climate rhetoric is. Yet the opportunity is not irrevocably lost; the pledging conference does not have to be the end of the road. We wait to see if COP28 unlocks the ambition the world needs and deserves.”

Mattias Söderberg, Global Climate Lead, DanChurchAid:
“The urgency for scaled up climate finance is not reflected in the current pledges to the Green Climate Fund, and I would just like to remind developed countries that it is not too late to pledge more support. The fund must be filled up!”

Gaïa Febvre, International Policy Coordinator Réseau Action Climat France:
“In June, France organized an international summit that highlighted the importance of mobilizing financing for climate, biodiversity and development. France had the opportunity to show consistency and send a strong signal ahead of COP28 with its second pledge for the Green Climate Fund. But the French government failed to seize the opportunity to significantly increase its contribution despite the increasingly costly consequences of climate change.”

Rachel Cleetus, Policy Director, Climate and Energy Program, Union of Concerned Scientists:
“The IPCC has made clear that solving the climate crisis requires much greater finance flows for mitigation and adaptation, yet the outcome of today’s GCF replenishment conference fell well short of what’s needed. The United States, as the world’s wealthiest country and largest emitter of historical heat-trapping emissions must live up to its responsibilities, as more than 100 groups called for in a letter. Low- and middle-income countries reeling from devastating climate impacts and who need funding to make a rapid clean energy transition deserve better. There is still time ahead of COP28 and richer countries must step up.”

David Eckstein, Senior Policy Advisor for Climate Finance, Germanwatch:
“We had hoped for a more ambitious result. In view of the worsening climate crisis, a sum that is lower than the last replenishment round four years ago is far too little. The fact that countries like Japan and Norway have even reduced their contributions is particularly shameful.

This is a bad signal for the climate summit in the United Arab Emirates. A higher replenishment would have shown that the countries are coming to the negotiating table in Dubai with great commitment and not empty-handed.
By the time of the world climate summit in seven weeks, all countries that have not yet announced a contribution must follow suit – this applies in particular to the United States, Sweden, Italy and Switzerland. But other wealthy countries with significant greenhouse gas emissions, like the United Arab Emirates, should also make a contribution.”

Dharini Parthasarathy, Global Lead Communications / +918826107830

Climate Action Network is a global network of over 1900 civil society organisations in over 130 countries together on a mission to fight the climate crisis. Visit:  

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