UN climate talks boost as Green Fund nears $10 billion target

US and Japan offer US$4.5 billion at G20 talks in Brisbane as efforts to secure fund’s future gather pace

Source: CARE International/Peter Caton

The GCF will help countries vulnerable to extreme weather prepare better for future storms and rises in sea level (Source: CARE International/Peter Caton)

By Ed King

The UN-backed Green Climate Fund says it is now just $2.5 billion shy of an initial capitalisation goal of $10 billion, with further pledges expected this week.

The US and Japan offered $3 billion and $1.5 billion respectively at the G20 meeting in Brisbane this weekend, significantly boosting the GCF’s coffers and hopes of a 2015 UN climate deal.

The Financial Times says the UK will commit a further $1 billion later this week, in line with offers on the table from France and Germany.

“These pledges bring us a giant step closer to reaching a global climate agreement in Paris,” said Athena Ballesteros from the World Resources Institute.

Aimed at helping developing countries invest in clean energy systems and cope with future climate impacts, the GCF is seen as a vital element of any future global agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Héla Cheikhrouhou, executive director of the fund, said she expected further announcements at a two-day gathering in Berlin on the 19-20 November. Earlier this year she said the GCF needed a least $10 billion by the start of 2015.

“I am optimistic that such consensus statement by the leaders of the Group of Twenty will translate into further significant contributions by those members who have not yet announced their pledge to the Green Climate Fund,” she said.

Leading developed countries yet to contribute include the UK, Canada and Italy, who all signed a final G20 communique that said they supported GCF efforts to mobilise finance for climate adaptation and mitigation efforts.

Australia’s prime minister Tony Abbott previously said he would not back the GCF, but came under intense pressure from the US to change his stance at the Brisbane G20 talks.

The UN’s chief climate official Christiana Figueres said the funding news, allied to last week’s US-China announcement to jointly cut greenhouse gas emissions, left her hopeful ahead of the year’s main set of global talks on climate, which start on December 1.

“I welcome the government of Japan’s pledge which has, along with other announcements over the past few days triggered a positive atmosphere around the upcoming pledging meeting in Berlin and in advance of the UN climate convention conference in Lima in a few weeks’ time,” she said.

A White House statement released on Sunday said “additional countries” are expected to pledge cash soon, stressing it did not intend to make a commitment that would exceed 30% of all confirmed contributions.

And in an early effort to deflect criticism from Republicans hostile to the UN, it said of the GCF: “It is not a United Nations agency or entity, nor will it have a large bureaucracy.”

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