The world’s climate adaptation efforts have a
funding problem. But UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hopes that
situation is about to change.
He’s invited world leaders to
a climate summit in New York in two week’s time, with UN
officials hoping some countries are ready to say how much they’ll
give to the UN’s Green Climate Fund.
The fund was set up in 2009 to help poorer countries
insulate themselves from the worst impacts of climate change. The
initiative relies on the world’s developed economies pledging cash.
After an initial flurry of donations, the fund is starting to run
Countries created the Green Climate Fund at the
Copenhagen summit five years ago. The agreement was hailed as one
few successes of the otherwise disappointing summit.
The fund is politically important, as it offers
developed countries a chance to back up their promise to help
poorer countries with hard cash.
Countries promised that by 2020 they’d collectively be
giving $100 billion to the fund each year. It’s never been clear
how much countries were expected to donate between now and 2020,
Nonetheless, there was plenty of early activity. 24 of
the world’s richest nations pledged
over $30 billion to get the fund going between 2010 and 2012,
as part of the UN’s ‘fast start finance initiative’. The UK gave
$2.4 billion, the US $7.5 billion, and Germany and France $1.6
billion each. Japan pledged a seemingly huge $150 billion.
Observers cast doubt over how much of this was new
money, however, warning that many countries were simply
reclassifying funds from their aid budgets as climate
Since 2012, pledges have almost completely dried up.
At the end of March 2014, the fund had received a
total of $37 million according to its official accounts.
Filling the void
A few countries have already put their cards on the
table. The relatively small sums offered so far could have
encouraged the fund’s officials to lower their demands just days
more pledges were expected.
Germany was the first developed country to make a pledge since
2010. In July, Angela Merkel’s government promised to give $1
billion spread over two years to the fund.
South Korea has pledged $40 million, driven by the
fact that it will be hosting the fund.
A few other countries have also pledged small amounts.
Indonesia, another developing country, pledged $250,000.
Sweden originally pledged $45 million by the end of 2014, but
has ended up splitting the contribution over two years.
France has said it will contribute to the fund, with NGO’s
expecting Paris to match Germany’s $1 billion contribution. The UK
has promised it’s
ready to give to the fund, but has given no indication of how
large its contribution will be.
Oxfam has previously suggested how much each country should
contribute towards the original $15 billion goal. It based its
estimates on the size and health of each country’s economy. The bar
below is separated according to Oxfam’s suggested pledges:
Source: Data from
Oxfam, graph by Carbon Brief.
Unsurprisingly, Oxfam suggests the US gives the most –
a little under $5 billion. France, Germany and the UK should
account for around $1 billion each, with Canada contributing $600
million and Australia a bit over $400 million to the fund, Oxfam
It seems unlikely the pledges will break down exactly
as Oxfam describes, however.
Canada and Australia have both gone
very cool on the idea of an international climate deal, so
they’re perhaps unlikely to support a scheme helping others cope
with the impacts of rising temperatures. Their conservative
governments also probably won’t be keen on anything that involves
stumping up money.
US negotiators have so far been reluctant to donate
concerns over who controls the fund.
Hammering out the details of how the fund is
structured will no doubt form part of the discussions in New York
in a fortnight’s time.
Countries aren’t the fund’s only potential sources of
income, however. It can also receive contributions from the private
sector through a mechanism known as the private sector
Some commentators are concerned this could leave
vulnerable to the sometimes erratic behaviour of international
From pledges to policies
Getting countries to cough up is only part of the
challenge. Converting pledges into programmes can also be difficult
– a problem not confined to the issue of climate change.
about two thirds of the funds promised to
the Green Climate Fund by May last year were actually delivered.
Nonetheless, getting governments to formally announce their
intentions is a good first step.
Updated 11/09 at 17.55 to reflect
that the funding goal had been lowered to $10 billion.