The Green Climate Fund will hold its first board meeting this week (8/23-25). The eventual goal is to raise billions of dollars to help developing countries adapt to climate change. The Green Climate Fund was officially launched at the 2011 Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa.
“The long delayed and long awaited first board meeting of the Green Climate Fund is taking place this week in Geneva. The timing really couldn’t be more urgent. In the U.S. alone, we’ve all these stories about droughts and massive crop damage, and rampant wildfires this summer, with concerns over rising food prices, among other things. The effects are even more severe in developing countries where vulnerable smallholder farmers don’t have the protection of things that we have here, like crop insurance or social safety nets,” said Brandon Wu, senior policy analyst at ActionAid USA.
Wu said while drought may mean higher food prices in the U.S., for some living in poor countries it may mean no meals at all. And then there are floods.
“Just one climate related disaster last year -- the floods in Bangkok – cost 40 billion dollars, according to U.N. estimates. And then of course the human suffering that goes with disasters like those that doesn’t really have a price tag,” he said.
He described the Green Climate Fund as “a channel through which finance can be equitably distributed to developing countries.” Organizers hope to raise 100 billion dollars a year by 2020.
Karen Orenstein of Friends of the Earth said some big potential donors may view the fund differently than civil society and humanitarian groups.
“The U.S., the U.K. and some other particularly developed countries have placed a great emphasis on the GCF being a means to attract as much private sector [funding] as possible. That is to leverage and crowd-in climate financing. This is very worrying. Many of the activities that the GCF will need to fund, in particular adaptation and even some mitigation activities, are not going to turn a profit. And thus are not going to be attractive to the private sector,” he said.
She also said the U.S. and others won’t commit to “substantial funds” until they get a good look at how the fund intends to operate. The U.S. took a similar stand regarding the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
“Many organizations are urging countries that have in the past contributed to the World Bank’s climate investment funds to instead direct money to the Green Climate Fund. And of course there are many ongoing discussions on very promising sources of funds, like a financial transaction tax, which is also called the Robin Hood Tax,” she said.
Supporters have said a small tax on financial transactions, for example on Wall Street, could raise billions of dollars.
Orenstein added she’s concerned about transparency of the fund’s first board meeting.
“It is looking a little troubling that we might have to fight for civil society observers to actually be allowed in the room. As happened at the transitional committee that designed the fund, the meeting should be open, should be webcast and the webcast should be archived,” she said.
The Green Climate Fund Board has 24 members with an equal number from developed and developing countries.