Sunday, December 2, 2012

Financing Climate Change: The Green Climate Fund (GCF)

Climate Change affects the lives of people much more directly than is commonly thought. Yvette Abrahams is a woman from South Africa who is experiencing the effects of climate change first hand. Her entire village is almost to the point where they will have to abandon their homes and move elsewhere. After a presentation on the Green Climate Fund (GCF), Yvette was not happy with the "assurances" made by developed countries to donate money to the GCF.  In the discussion following the presentation she stated, "We need to sort it out, not our children. A 2 degree temperature rise everywhere else would mean a 4-5 degree rise in South Africa. At those temperatures our grass cannot grow, the cattle will die, and we will have to leave. What we have held through apartheid, colonization, and genocide, we will lose through climate change". What she is asking is for people to start acting now, not wait for someone else to take charge.

The speakers from the GCF talk.

Indigenous People and developing countries all around the world are feeling the effects of climate change right now. What they are asking is that initiatives to battle climate change start right now. In order to begin these initiatives there must be ample financing available to all people around the world. This is the idea behind the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The GCF was proposed and adopted at COP15 in Copenhagen. Since then the Board has met 2 times and at each subsequent COP the GCF has been left unaddressed. At this point the GCF lacks formal safeguards and processes; Board members and other experts called it “an empty shell”. The general consensus is that at COP18 or sometime in 2013 there is a real need to get down to the nuts and bolts of the GCF and lay down the groundwork so it can become functional and begin to help people.
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This “laying of groundwork” is the trickiest aspect of the Green Climate Fund. The ultimate goal is to create a fund that will address and support both mitigation and adaptation evenly. The GCF must also provide a safeguard mechanism to ensure that money will be used as effectively as possible. One proposal is that the safeguards to be established within the GCF must also be adopted by any private sector group or NGO that wants to use money from the fund. This would ensure that the goals of the GCF would be upheld. Another aspect that must be ensured is that adaptation and mitigation will have equal shares of the fund. This is important because both mitigation and adaptation are needed to solve climate change. There is a need to both reduce the amount of CO2 being released, which is mitigation, as well as to help people who are already feeling the effects of climate change, which is adaptation.

When looking at the history of climate finance, it becomes clear that money tends to flow into the private sector and as a result they are the ones that carry out plans on the ground. What has been lacking is the availability of money going directly to indigenous people and local communities. An example presented by Mr. Emmanuel Dlamini illustrates why money should be available to local communities. In his presentation Mr. Dlamini told of a friend who lives in a rural area in Africa. She saved up enough money to buy her own seeds and grow crops for her family. She planned out when to plant her seeds based on rain patterns from the past. Then the rain stopped - it did not come when it had traditionally come and as a result all of her plants died. The next year she had to withdraw a loan to get seeds. This pattern continues and causes many people to go deeper and deeper into debt. This variability in weather is amplified by climate change. What people in these rural areas need is some type of fund, such as the GCF, from which to receive money necessary to combat the problems brought on by climate change. If they do not have access to a fund such as the GCF, they have no choice but to put themselves in debt.

Here are a few statements from experts during the Green Climate Fund session:

“In order to make it a big fund, we must first make it an effective fund.” –Daisy Stratfield

“We want to see the GCF grow and prosper.” –Ina von Franzuis

“Let's have a decision not just an assurance.” –David Kabula

“Climate change must be seen as a reality, not an idea.” -Emmanuel Dlamini

“Climate change and the GCF is an issue of justice.” –George Awudi

1 comment:

  1. How interesting! How does someone become a member of Green Climate Fund? Is there is an opportunity for youth participation? If so, I'd be inclined to be believe people like you, Michael, and the SES delegation would have the kind of skills, energy, knowledge, and drive to move the effort into the "nuts and bolts" stage.

    If they haven't made provisions for the youth voice to be part of the process, perhaps you could make that happen. The balance between mitigation and adaptation requires some fair-minded, forward-thinking people who grasp the big picture and the details. From what I've read in these blogs posts, SES students fit the bill. Thank you once again these reports!