The green climate fund: big task requires big investment

Sat, 19 Sep 2015 Source: Hinneh, Samuel

By Samuel Hinneh

Financial contributions from developed countries clearly determine the success of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to embark on climate change mitigation as well as adaptation projects and activities in developing countries.

The Fund is very crucial to promote the paradigm shift towards low-emission and climate-resilient development pathways by providing support to developing countries to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change, taking into account the needs of developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. Therefore, having an adequate financial base will not only help the Green Climate Change Fund to achieve its mandate but more importantly, to ensure that people affected by climate change can make ends meet in terms of food, shelter, among others.

Given the magnitude of the devastating effects of climate change globally, particularly in developing countries, which is well documented, including rising sea levels, less predictable weather and more extreme events such as droughts, floods and storms, the fund presents a lifeline. The changing temperature and rainfall patterns can produce additional effects on water supplies, on crops and pests and pollinators, and on organisms that cause disease. They can also have physical impacts on infrastructure, and all of these impacts can combine to create additional social, economic and political impacts.

The GCF Executive Director, Ms Héla Cheikhrouhou, says so far the fund has received contributions of about US$10 billion from 35 countries. Two-thirds of those have already been signed to agreements to allow for provision of funding to projects and activities, she adds.

"So the US$10 billion is to be invested over a period of four years which means US$2.5 billion a year compared to the varying estimates of how much it will take to build resilience in the long term in the developing countries which range around US$400 billion a year.

"The contributions received from developed countries to the fund is really small and this is the fact that it is the beginning and fund continues to call on countries that are unable to do so to come forward and make contributions,” says Ms Cheikhrouhou at a side event during the 3rd UN International Conference on Financing for Development (held on 13-16 July, 2015) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Developing countries have a huge task in negotiation for developed countries consistent financial commitment to the fund especially in the run up to and even during the Paris climate talks in December. To do this, developing countries need to have a common voice and ground to push through their agenda.

This is so essential given the impacts of climate change adverse effects in the developing world. Many people have been rendered homeless as a result of floods, people, especially children under five years are suffering from malnutrition, together with energy crisis, among others.

Climate change consequences is globally leading to 4.5 degree Celsius warmer resulting in disappearance of coastal areas, islands, in addition to significant impact on the agriculture, water availability, among others. This therefore calls for adaptation and mitigation measures to help cope with the menace created by climate change.

The world needs a paradigm shift meaning investment in all sectors of the economy achieved through systematic approach based on long term needs underpinned by low emissions as well as building resilience solutions across all sectors of the society.

Again, focusing on the development of cities in areas protected from floods to safeguard human safety, development of agricultural crops which are drought and pest resistant to achieve food security. Energy crisis has recently become a common theme as far as problems in Africa is concerned. Therefore, attention also needs to be channelled to developing energy solutions and technologies which are going to be less or zero emitting greenhouse gases.

This is what every day in developing countries decisions are being made and more often than not the decisions that are taken end up being high emissions solutions which are less resilient to the combat of climate change.

"It is not because people want to pollute or build something that is not going to resist natural disaster, it is because, among other reasons, an incremental cost associated with the low emissions and the climate resilience solutions. It is because it is perceived as a technology that is not proven, it is perceived as a complicated way of monetising energy savings, and this is where the fund can support developing countries by helping them in favour of lower emissions and climate resilience investments,’’ she explained.

Over the past two decades, close to 90% of climate finance has gone purely to mitigation geared towards lowering greenhouse gases emissions, says Ms Cheikhrouhou.

"Unfortunately, greenhouse gas emissions increase exceptionally leading to real need to invest in adaptation. This means that global warming is happening already, water resources are becoming scarce, agricultural practices are becoming unsustainable.

"This is the reason the fund has decided that it will dedicate half of its resources, thus, 50% to adaptation and half of those resources will go to countries particularly threatened by climate change, such as least developing countries and African states,” says Ms Cheikhrouhou.

Some of the key issues the fund will focus on relates to building resilience, efficiency cities, enhancing agricultural practices as well as clean energy.

To do this, the fund seeks to work with established existing institutions to execute its objectives.

Columnist: Hinneh, Samuel