$10 billion Green Climate Fund draws mixed response

As global climate negotiations (CPO20) continue in Lima, Peru, pledges to the Green Climate Fund have surpassed $10 billion. Yesterday both Belgium and Australia announced support for the fund, with the countries pledging €51.7 million (US$64.4 million) and $200 million respectively. The Fund is designed to contribute to global climate mitigation strategies by providing assistance to developing countries.

“The Fund will promote the paradigm shift towards low-emission and climate-resilient development pathways by providing support to developing countries to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change,” its manifesto reads.

“The $10 billion threshold reached here at COP20 is a landmark achievement,” said Hela Cheikhrouhou, executive director of the Fund. “I warmly welcome the new pledges from Belgium and Australia and congratulate them for their leadership,” she said, thanking them also for their active role on the Board of the Fund.

70 developing countries have already designated local authorities to work in partnership with the Fund, with 77 of them having already requested support.

The global solar industry could play a significant role in supplying projects supported under the Fund. Responding to the $10 billion pledge milestone, the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) said that solar is a good fit to provide renewable energy solutions in the developing world.

“EPIA welcomes the recent announcement of new countries pledging to the Green Climate Fund, EPIA’s Benjamin Fontaine told pv magazine. “The news is good for the solar industry, as solar is an obvious solution to reduce CO2 emissions and fight climate change, in particular in developing countries where power demand is increasing fast and where solar is already competitive with conventional sources."

America’s Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has also welcomed the Green Climate Fund. After the U.S. made its $3 billion pledge last month, SEIA said it applauded President Obama’s support of the Fund.

“This fund will help U.S. businesses, including solar companies, pursue projects in developing nations. U.S. participation represents an opportunity to bring new technologies and innovations to these nations, help the global environment and expand the development of clean, renewable energy worldwide,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA.

Eicke Weber, Director of Fraunhofer ISE told pv magazine that while more pledges to the Fund were expected, $10 billion is not a negligible amount.

“I say it is a step in the right direction,” said Weber. “Of course, many people say that it is less than was originally promised. But when you get used to the mechanism, you can build on it, because after all you need time to develop programs that are to be sponsored by the funds of this Green Climate Fund. So it makes sense, as long as you have the perspective that this is an amount that needs more donations.”

Not nearly enough

However not all renewable energy advocates have been supportive of the Fund. Co-author of Germany’s renewable-enabling Renewable Energy Sources (EEG) legislation and German Greens energy spokesman Han-Joseph Fell has blasted the Fund as being inadequate in the face of the likely costs of climate change.

“For global tax payers, the Green Climate Fund is a nothingness,” wrote Fell in a mailing to subscribers. “$550 billion dollars of public subsidies annually go to fossil energy, which is about $100 per ton of CO2 emissions. From the public sector each year about 55 times as much money is spent to promote climate change [through fossil fuel subsidies] than the Green Climate Fund can provide in its entire term.”

“More than 300 times greater than the Green Climate Fund are the private investments that total annually more than $3,000 billion in investments in fossil energy to fund the construction of new oil, gas, coal supply.”

Fell called on governments to recognize the need for “truly effective climate finance” such as: FITS for renewable energy, an end to fossil fuel and nuclear subsidies, tax breaks for renewable energy and a “gradually rising” carbon taxation.

In responding to Fell’s remarks, Fraunhofer’s Eicke Weber concurred, but he added that as a new mechanism, the Green Climate Fund could become a catalyst for change.

“Here we are creating a new instrument and we are starting from scratch,” said Weber. “And I must say, I’m still positively pleased that we now have this first 10 billion. This is a drop in the bucket, but a fairly thick drop. With $10 billion you can realize a fair number of projects. Now I would first look forward and see with which mechanism you can support the best, [what are] the most productive projects from this money, to really get things moving and accelerate the global energy revolution.”

Additional reporting by Michael Fuhs. Translations by Eva Weber.

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