Climate Equity

From promise to payment pledge: in Los Cabos, the G20 must act on long-term climate finance

11. June 2012

This blog post has been written jointly with Lili Fuhr of the Heinrich Boell Foundation in Berlin.

G20 Leaders are meeting June 18 to 19, in Los Cabos, Mexico, presumably to discuss ways to deal with the current economic and financial challenges, such as the Euro-zone crisis. What the heads of state and government of the most powerful 20 nations on this planet will actually concretely talk about in those two days is only known to few insiders and those segments society granted special access, such as the B20, the advocacy grouping of the business sector, because the G20 remains the least transparent and least accountable global governance process.
Climate change and sustainable development – with global leaders meeting just a few days before the Rio+20 Summit starts – should be high on their agenda. As the G20 website points out (and it is actually one of the very few pieces of information on the summit available on it): The weather in Los Cabos, one of Mexico’s major tourist destinations, is “very dry, dry and semi-dry.” Let’s hope that this will inspire our leaders to reflect upon how they can help deal developing countries to adapt to climate change impacts by providing long term climate finance… (more…)

The Complex Web of Climate Finance Decisions in Durban — with the Green Climate Fund at its Center!

27. November 2011

Ever since developed countries in Copenhagen at COP15 pledged significant short- and long-term financial support to help developing countries achieve their climate action goals, the discourse about climate finance – on how to fulfill the pledges from what sources, on which institutional channels to use or create, on how to balance and rationalize the global climate finance architecture and on whether and how to align the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of climate finance with that of emissions reductions – has been a dominant driver of the multilateral climate negotiation process. COP17 in Durban starting this Monday will be no different. By some counts no fewer than seven or eight distinct decisions relating to climate finance are on the Durban schedule, all of them interwoven and interlinked in a complex web of conditionalities, reciprocities and political gamesmanship with the larger Durban negotiation package. The most prominent one, , the pivot in the view of many insiders, will be the confirmation of the design for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the approval of a transitional process as well as initial funding for its set-up by the parties. Without the GCF and its secured financial sustainability, there will be no Durban package. (more…)

No Consensus on the Design of the Green Climate Fund — Transitional Committee work ends “sub-optimal”

25. October 2011

The seven months long process to design a new Green Climate Fund (GCF), on which a 40 member Transitional Committee (TC) composed of 25 from representatives from developing and 15 from developed countries had embarked since the end of April, ended in Cape Town, South Africa on October 18th with – in the words of host and co-chairman Trevor Manuel of South Africa — a “sub-optimal” outcome, if not outright failure to complete its mandate, as some countries alleged. Tasked to come up with a draft governing instrument laying out the objectives and mission, the governance structures and core operational modalities of the new global climate fund, the 40 TC members failed to reach a consensus on the proposed text.

While most country members noted that they were unable to agree with some provisions in the draft governing instrument, but were willing to go along with it for the process’ sake, only the United States and Saudi Arabia rejected the document outright in its current form, asked for further negotiations and thus denied the unanimous agreement needed to recommend the text to the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for adoption.

Instead, COP 17 in Durban will consider and approve a governing instrument that in all likelihood will be opened up for renegotiation – this time among the 194 members of the UNFCCC, instead of the narrower circle of 40 in the Transitional Committee, making consensus and an agreement acceptable to both developed and developing countries even more elusive. With this development, it is almost certain that the new Green Climate Fund will not be able to start its work in early 2012, if at all. And the obstacles for a successful outcome for global climate negotiations at the Durban “African COP” in early December, of which a carefully designed Green Climate Fund was to be a central piece, have become all but daunting. (more…)

Designing the Green Climate Fund: So much disagreement, so little time …

19. September 2011

So much disagreement, so little time: With three out of four scheduled meetings of the Transitional Committee (TC) tasked with designing the new Green Climate Fund (GCF) now completed after the recent one in Geneva, severe differences remain primarily, although not exclusively, between the 25 developing and 15 developed member countries about form and functions of the Fund. This despite the fact that some progress and convergence of opinions on some important matters is emerging, such as that funding decisions should be driven by and consistent with developing countries’ own national climate and development plans. However, the points of divergence and disagreement are too many and too fundamental in nature to simply hope for a rapid alignment or quick compromise between the TC members.

Given that there are just two full days of negotiations in the 4th TC Meeting in Cape Town on October 16th and 17th and a mere four weeks of behind-the-scenes hackling and drafting left to bridge that divide, it is hard to agree with the optimistic assessment of UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres that the TC “is now fully on track to conclude the design of the Fund for the approval by the UNFCCC’s Conference of the Parties in Durban” in late November. The road to Durban remains bumpy, and TC members have little time to cover a lot of distance. (more…)

Engendering the Green Climate Fund — An Opportunity for Best Practice

18. July 2011

Gender considerations are currently not systematically addressed in existing climate financing instruments; where gender appears, it is in bits and pieces.  Probably the main reason for that is that gender was not integrated into the design and the operationalization of these financing mechanisms from the very outset – as is the case for the World Bank’s Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) as well as for the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) or the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) administered by the Global Environment Facility, and even the Adaptation Fund, which only started project funding last year.  This is where the Green Climate Fund, currently designed by the 40 members of the Transitional Committee, has a chance to do better:  It has an opportunity to be truly transformative and distinguish itself from existing funds by being the first to integrate a gender perspective from the outset. Gender as a cross-cutting issue must guide the discussions about the scope, the governance and operational guidelines of the Green Climate Fund in the Transitional Committee. (more…)

Germany’s Chance and Challenge — Funding the Energy Transformation at Home AND Abroad!

30. June 2011

Observed around the world with varying degrees of curiosity, high expectations and hopes, skepticism, potential good will or schadenfreude, Germany, Europe’s largest economy, has embarked on probably the furthest reaching energy transformation of any industrialized country by its recent government decision – confirmed by a parliamentary vote end of June – to phase out nuclear energy by 2022.  This will be a costly endeavor, no doubt, a multibillion-dollar experiment to improve the country’s electricity grid and scale up generation and use of renewable energy domestically.  If Germany’s great energy transformation effort succeeds, other industrialized countries will have a harder time arguing that a low-carbon energy transformation will necessarily cost jobs, reduce a country’s economic growth and threaten its global competitiveness. 

Yet, the German experiment can only then be judged a true success, if Germany does not fund its national energy transformation  at the expense of its international obligations and pledges to help developing countries finance their own low-carbon and climate-resilient development.  Funding both the energy transformation at home and internationally at the same time, without short-cuts and excuses:  this  will set Germany apart from the rest of the industrialized world and cement a true German leadership position in climate actions globally ….. (more…)

A Tentative Start for the Transitional Committee

3. May 2011

The first meeting of the Transitional Committee (TC), the 40 member body of negotiators tasked by the UN Climate Framework Convention to design a new Green Climate Fund (GCF), started in the same way that summarized the entire design process up to now: delayed.  Almost two months later than the Cancun Agreement had mandated, the TC delegates and close to 100 observers from multilateral and bilateral financial institutions, international organizations, academia, the private sector and other civil society groups convened in Mexico-City on April 28th for the first time. Except that they didn’t, at least not at first.  Instead, the 40 countries representing the full UNFCCC membership of 194 (with 15 members from developed and 25 from developing countries) haggled in a non-public “non-session” for several hours fiercely over which countries should chair the process from now on.  In the end, a “troika” of countries was confirmed with Mexico (the current COP presidency), South Africa (the future COP presidency) and Norway sharing the TC leadership as co-chairs.  (more…)

UNFCCC Talks in Bangkok: Lack of Political Courage Dampens Spirits

5. April 2011

Four months after the climate summit in Cancun endet with a a series of „Cancun Agreements“, this week, negotiators in Bangkok/Thailand continue to push for an international climate compact.  It is not only the nuclear meltdown in Japan, following the devastating earthquake and tsunami there, which attracts political and media attention instead of the Bangkok talks.  A UN negotiation fatigue, starting with the politically controversial Copenhagen Accord, has not yet dissipated, despite the partial success in Cancun – which agreed to worry about the really contentious issues, like the legal status of a follow-up agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, later.  Many have lost faith that the UNFCCC is the right venue to engender substantial process in the international climate talks.  ClimatEquity talked with Hans Verolme, an advisor to many of the civil society organizations organized in Climate Action Network International, who is participating in the Bangkok negotiations this week.

ClimatEquity (CE): In Cancun, there was a spirit of optimism expressed by many government negotiators and civil society representatitives. Is any of this spirit still palpable in Bangkok?  

Hans Verolme (HV): While the hangover from Copenhagen may have lifted in Cancun, it is my view that the Cancun Agreements were to some extent merely a translation of the Copenhagen Accord into the UNFCCC negotiating text. They also represented an acknowledgement by the world’s governments of their lack of political courage to translate a rather vague, rhetorical ambition to prevent dangerous warming into a fair and binding agreement. The existence of this large (some 10 gigatonnes!) gap between ambition and action is now central to the NGO work here. This sobering but realistic assessment also leads many NGOs to focus on very concrete issues such as how to deliver technology and finance support.

Overall, civil society (and donor) interest in these negotiations has dropped significantly. Where in the run up to Copenhagen the meeting rooms were too small to handle the throngs of activists and the streets of Bangkok were full of protesters, all that remains is a small core of NGO representatives, often members of Climate Action Network with longstanding expertise in these negotiations. Unfortunately the growing climate movement is not felt here. (more…)

Needed: A True World Bank Development Report on Gender Equality

17. March 2011

The World Bank’s series of World Development Reports (WDR)is special: conceived as the “flagship publication” of the international development bank, whose self-declared primary mission is poverty reduction, WDRs are meant to showcase the most advanced thinking from within the World Bank, detailing — and suggesting ways to overcome – major political, social and economic obstacles to global development targeted at development policy makers and practitioners. Given this premise, and the world’s acknowledgement of gender equality as critical for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), one might wonder why it has taken the World Bank research staff that long to zoom in on gender equality (the Bank has published 32 WDRs so far since 1978) as the topic for a WDR, with “Gender Equality and Development” now being the official focus of the upcoming WDR 2012 to be released in late 2011.

But if a first 65-page draft outline of the possible several hundred pages long final report is any indication, the World Bank’s staff, despite its stated intention to use the WDR to take a look at the “various dimensions“ of gender equality, will not be able to overcome its own parochial view of women and gender equality.  Missing most prominently: an understanding of development in the context of sustainability, which – in the day and age of persistently high poverty rates, food insecurity, gender inequalities, environmental destruction and climate change globally – should be redefined as low-carbon, climate-resilient, livelihood focused, gender equitable development.  After all, almost 20 years after the Earth Summit, next year a serious reconsideration and refocusing of the concept in the context  of Rio+20 seems unavoidable. (more…)

From Anticipation to Confusion and Delay: The First Design Meeting for the Green Climate Fund

4. March 2011

When the Parties in Cancun agreed to set up a global Green Climate Fund (GCF) and tasked a new Transitional Committee (TC) of experts to meet by March 2011 for the first time to get to work on designing the new global climate fund, this was hailed as one of the most important concrete outcomes of the Cancun Agreements. Observers also noticed with hope that the TC would have a majority of its 40 members (namely 25 of them) come from developing countries.  This, so the expectation would ensure that the new Green Climate Fund would be more needs-based and recipient-country driven than is the case with most of the existing climate financing instruments, and less guided by industrialized countries’ demands as primary fund contributors.  Developing countries, having fought so hard before and in Cancun for the Green Climate Fund, seemed eager and excited to get to work quickly…. (more…)

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