Record levels of finance pledged for Global Environment Facility

Global Environment Facility

Record amounts of funding was pledged to the Global Environment Facility to help developing countries tackle environmental degradation. Creative Commons: 2008

Governments have pledged a record amount of finance to help developing nations tackle climate change as they met for a meeting of the Global Environment Facility in Geneva, Switzerland.

Resources for the GEF Trust Fund – a major channel for climate finance from developed to developing countries – are replenished every four years, at a meeting of countries wishing to contribute.

Last week, at such a “GEF Replenishment” meeting, 30 donor countries pledged $4.43 billion to support developing country efforts to prevent environmental degradation and tackle climate change.

The funding will support projects in more than 140 countries, and is not exclusively used for climate projects.

It will be used to tackle a broad range of threats to the environment including deforestation, land degradation, species extinction, oceans and freshwater resources, toxic pollution and climate change.

Doris Leuthard, head of the Swiss Federal Department for Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications that hosted the meeting said:

We have better scientific evidence that human activity can lead to tipping points with a risk of irreversible and abrupt environmental change. By focusing on the drivers of environmental change and by seeking multiple benefits, the GEF is taking the right approach to turn around the worrying trends.

The GEF remains one of the main global mechanisms to support developing countries towards fulfilling their commitments under global environmental agreements.

While the record $4.43 billion donated by countries at least week’s meeting has been welcomed by those following the talks, it remains a small drop in the ocean compared to the levels of funding needed to help developing countries tackle climate change.

At the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009, developed countries pledged to scale up climate finance reaching $100 billion per year by 2020 to support both climate adaptation and mitigation.

But while countries continue to struggle to mobilise such levels of climate finance latest estimates warn that even the $100 billion figure will be woefully inadequate at addressing the scale of the problem.

Last year, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres warned that as much as $1 trillion would be needed per year to help poorer nations invest in low carbon energy and develop climate resilience.

Meanwhile a report last year examining the ‘adaptation gap’ in Africa warned that by 2070 the continent would need around $200 billion annually just to tackle adaptation if temperature rise was limited to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

If this threshold was exceeded, the continent could need as much as $350 billion annually to adapt.

And last week, a new fund was announced with the aim of specifically tackling this gap, as the African Development Bank launched an ‘African Climate Change Fund‘ to provide support to African countries in their battle against the adverse impacts of climate change.

The fund will be managed and hosted by the bank and was launched with an initial contribution of $6 million from Germany.

It is set to invite bids for project financing next month.

Despite these new funds, however, the GEF still has an important role to play and remains the longest standing multilateral climate change fund.

With record funds pledged at last week’s meeting, those closely following climate finance flows hope that this will send a message to the global financial community.

Naoko Ishil, CEO and Chairperson of the GEF said the decision to pledge such levels of financing to the fund “is a powerful signal to the global community about the importance of urgently reversing the negative environmental trends in order to ensure a sustainable future for everybody.”

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