UK to pledge “strongly” to Green Climate Fund

Climate and energy minister says UK will make significant donation to UN’s green bank in November

Amber Rudd from the UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change says climate finance will be forthcoming (Pic: DECCgovuk/Flickr)

Amber Rudd from the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change says climate finance will be forthcoming (Pic: DECCgovuk/Flickr)

By Sophie Yeo

The UK will pledge money to the Green Climate Fund in November, energy minister Amber Rudd said today, in an effort to keep key international climate change talks on track. 

Speaking at Chatham House in London, Conservative minister Amber Rudd said that the UK would donate “strongly” to the UN’s green bank during a pledging session in Berlin this month.

The UK is still discussing the figure, but she said that “the signs are that it will be good”.

The money will be used to help poor countries cut their emissions and prepare for the increasing impacts of climate change. The Green Climate Fund was set up in 2010 to gather and disburse these funds.

International effort

These funds will be crucial to unlocking an international climate deal, set to be signed off in Paris 2015.

The government has always said that climate change will never be more than 10% of the 0.7% of GDP spent on aid, in order to leave enough money for other projects. But even this is around £1bn.

It is likely that any donation from the UK will be at least as generous as past pledges and have to match other developed countries to maintain its place as a leader in the climate change field.

France has so far pledged the largest sum, with President Francois Hollande promising $1 billion for the Green Climate Fund in September. Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel has also promised €1 billion.

Donations to the fledging fund are interpreted as a strong statement of intent from countries that they intend to back a meaningful UN deal on climate change in 2015.

Poor countries say that, without rich countries transferring a significant amount  of cash, they will be unable to take the necessary action to reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change.

But pledge too little and politicians risk breaking the fragile trust that exists within the UN negotiations, with poor nations suspecting the rich of neglecting their promise to provide $100 billion a year by 2020.

Large donations could, on the other hand, create domestic difficulties for politicians.

“One of the themes of trying to get all countries along with us here is not to say, ‘Come up to this level or you fail,’” said Rudd.

On track

The UK has already donated £1.5bn since 2009 to poor countries for climate change adaptation through an initial round of funding.

But this new tranche is the first time the Government has pledged money to the Green Climate Fund, that is likely to demand much higher spending.

Halldór Thorgeirsson, director for strategy at the UN’s climate body, told RTCC that the UK had been “very progressive” during internal discussions of climate finance.

He said: “The UK has a clearly articulated ambition for how climate finance could made sense than some other parties, and that’s been very helpful.”

So far, the fund has remained largely empty relative to the US$100 billion that developed countries have promised will flow every year from 2020.

A total of $2.8 billion had been pledged to the GCF to date. The most recent donation came from Sweden, which announced a further $500 million donation last month—the largest pledge relative to a country’s total wealth.

There are high hopes for a meeting in Berlin on 19-20 November, where countries will be invited to come forward with their centrepiece pledges. The UK and the US are among countries that have yet to give money to the fund.

The audience at Chatham House heard that a total pool of $10 billion ahead of the UN Lima conference was still within reach.

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