How to make the Green Climate Fund a better force for change

(Climate Change News, 28 Oct 2019) Comment: Vastly more of the fund’s money should go to projects that adapt to the impacts of climate change .


Rich countries gathered in Paris last week to make pledges to the UN Green Climate Fund (GCF). Now they should seize an opportunity to enhance the fund’s unique capabilities.

The GCF is critical in helping developing countries implement their obligations under the Paris Agreement. In its brief existence, the fund has mobilised $5 billion for climate action in nearly 100 countries, which will avert 1.5 billion tonnes of CO2 and help more than 310 million people thrive. Impressively, given the glacial pace of international development, more than half of GCF projects are already being implemented.

With the fund’s resources now almost exhausted and the window of opportunity to act on climate change narrowing rapidly, its ability to support transformative climate action in countries most in need should be optimised.

The $9.8bn pledged by countries last week could be much more effectively deployed by recognising the inherent differences in the two overarching climate goals of adaptation and mitigation; and modifying both its allocation mix and its activities.

Put simply, the GCF should be reoriented to primarily support adaptation directly, and direct its mitigation funding towards creating the environment for private sector investment, while leaving implementation of the latter to the private sector.

Both mitigation and adaptation lead to the creation of a public good. However mitigation is a public good that is intrinsically global: the benefits of each tonne of greenhouse gases (GHG) mitigated are distributed worldwide, through the atmosphere. By contrast, adaptation is very much a local public good; the benefits of adaptation measures will usually only go to those in the local area or country.

This distinctive characteristic of mitigation versus adaptation seems obvious, but it has deep implications for financing facilitated by the GCF.

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Climate Change News, 28 Oct 2019: How to make the Green Climate Fund a better force for change