Live from COP21: Who is paying for the green transformation?

UPF:s very own UFS-representative and board member, Kajsa Fernström Nåtby, is, together with Klara Ezvik Nyström from UF Uppsala, spending the week in Paris, following COP21. This is part of a series of posts about their experience there. Enjoy! 

One of the first projects financed by the green climate fund will develop stronger warning systems in Malawi. Source: Klara Elzvik Nyström

When the world woke up this morning, the negotiations had been going on all night. During wednesday afternoon yet another draft of the agreement was published. The purpose of the nightly meeting was to reflect upon this and process it to come as close as possible to the final draft. There are still some burning issues being discussed such as ambition, means of implementation, differentiation and financing. Just like many other issues within foreign affairs the discussion many times comes down to economics. How should the green transformation be financed?

The green climate fund (GCF) was initiated after the conference in Copenhagen 2009 and established 2010 in Cancún. The purpose with the fund is to assist developing countries in their struggle to reduce emissions and encourage the choice of a sustainable pathway. This is meant to succeed with GCF as a financing tool. Since the fund is intended to support developing countries in their climate change mitigation and adaptation actions, pledging money to it shows that the donating countries are ready to make the effort needed to meet the climate challenge. It developes a discussion about climate debt, justice and responsibility.

Hopefully the green climate fund will fulfill its objective, building both important bridges and trust between countries. Because of the need to find a financing solution during the negotiations, the green climate fund has been called one of the major pieces to solve this puzzle. GCF is already operating with eight pilot projects initiated in the beginning of November and the agreement in Paris will provide the board with further guidelines.

There is still a significant gap between the goal of 100 billion USD and the money pledged today. This has lead to an increasing distrust in the fund. Some contributing countries have emphasized that to reach that sum, countries with growing economies that historically have been defined as developing countries, should also start donating to the fund. Further discussions in the already ongoing work within the fund circulates around the involvement of civil society and the local organisations that in the end are supposed to receive the donations. These local organisations hope for transparency and influence. Ousseynou Nakoulima, director for country programing at GCF, states that the fund “can’t really provide more transparency and info due to the secretariat being very small”. During COP21, the green climate fund has received several additional donations. This is probably due to the fact that an additional pledge to the fund is seen as a explicit way for a country to show ambition and willingness to finance that ambition. Most recently Norway double its pledge.

Ousseynou Nakoulima, in the middle, participating in a panel talk concerning the green climate fund. Source: Kajsa Fernström Nåtby

Placed into a larger perspective, the green climate fund might seem insignificant. One hundred billion dollars is a less than a fifth of the Swedish yearly GDP, just imagine then what a small part it plays in the global world economy.

Even though the proportional size of power is limited, the symbolic value of the fund still sends a strong message. The green climate fund has a crucial part in demonstrating desire to change and the importance of trust and respect while doing so.

So, what do people at COP21 know about the green climate fund?

“Yeah, I have heard of it. One of nine policy points the ocean climate platform wish to achieve is transforming it into the blue climate fund, including saving the oceans. All the bad things we have done to our planet are side effects of economic consumption and we need economic solutions to solve that issue.”
– Stephen Hakim, World Ocean Council

“I’ve heard of GFC but I don’t know a lot about it. Based on what I know I think it will be important, any effort into gathering funds to save the planet is important.”
– Giada Aline, photographer and volunteer for a project called An eye for an eye

Kajsa Fernström Nåtby  and Klara Ezvik Nyström

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