I participated a few days ago in a Friends of the Earth urgent email action concerning US stances on the proposed Global Climate Fund through which developed countries will give financial assistance to developing countries in tackling the impacts of climate change. Friends of the Earth were alarmed by the US push for the management of the Fund to be handled by the World Bank rather than come under the aegis of the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
They noted dryly that the World Bank has more experience causing climate change than preventing and addressing it.
’Despite the climate crisis and its devastating impact on developing countries, the World Bank loaned more money for coal in 2010 than it ever has before, with a 40-fold increase over the last 5 years’.
They also consider that the World Bank falls short on the important issues of democratic governance, sustainability, poverty alleviation, human rights and environmental integrity.
The other US position which Friends of the Earth took exception to was the threat at the Tianjin talks to block the establishment of a Global Climate Fund this year if US demands for more actions from developing countries like China are not met. They pointed out that the threat is unfair given that the US is the country most responsible for causing the climate crisis and among the world’s least active in addressing it.
Oxfam was another NGO last week expressing concern about the management of the Global Climate Fund. They issued a report Righting Two Wrongs: Making a New Global Climate Fund Work for Poor People which called for a new Fund to be set up at the UN climate summit in Cancun in December. In the Copenhagen Accord last year developed countries committed to a goal of mobilising US$100 billion a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. Oxfam’s concern is that as much of the money as possible should be channelled through a single fund and that the fund should be ’fairly governed, accountable and accessible to the groups, including women, who are on the front lines of climate change.’
Oxfam wants us to learn from the experience of recent years which shows that poor people in developing countries are not receiving an appropriate share of the climate funds disbursed. They are already having to adapt to severe effects of climate change and are not being supported as they should be. Currently money is being applied much more to mitigation in developing countries than to adaptation.
The report is typically detailed in its suggestions as to how the Fund should be set up and managed, and while it wants the populations most affected by climate change impacts to be much more involved in the process it also recognises the interest of the donor countries in being assured that the money is used transparently and wisely.
’New and additional’ are the words the Copenhagen accord used to describe the funding they committed to. Some will no doubt try to simply divert existing development aid to climate projects, but they will have no basis to defend such attempts The new money will add up to a similar amount to that already spent on development aid, and Oxfam considers that at least 50% of it should be allocated to adaptation in vulnerable developing countries.
A sense of the urgency Oxfam feels behind the measured statements of their report was well communicated by their senior climate change advisor Kelly Dent when announcing its release:
’For many people around the world, this has been a year from sheer hell. We’ve seen floods, droughts, fires, storms and other extreme weather events that will only get worse as climate change intensifies. Some of the poorest people in the world have seen their crops wiped out and livelihoods destroyed — but we still haven’t caught on to their needs. Will we sow the seeds of resilience now or pay the price of failure later?’