The UN Climate Change Summit in New York brought many new pledges and commitments on emissions reduction targets, reduced deforestation, and in financing the Green Climate Fund, and many more.
It was hailed by by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as a successful start for negotiating a global climate agreement in Paris in December 2015 at COP21.
But Graça Machel, the widow of Nelsen Mandela, who followed Ban Ki-moon in the closing speeches of the summit, identified that there is still "a huge mismatch between the magnitude and of the challenge and the response that we heard here today". Machel is a member of the elders, an independent group of global leaders foundered by Nelson Mandela.
Here is what Ban Ki-moon summarised the current target and pledges at:
Leaders expressed strong support for the Green Climate Fund and many called for the Fund's initial capitalization at an amount no less than $10 billion. There was a total of $2.3 billion in pledges to the Fund's initial capitalization from six countries. Six others committed to allocate contributions by November 2014.
Here is what Oxfam said back in June 2014 at the Bonn negotiations on the Green Climate Fund:
“Oxfam is concerned that developed countries are refusing to specify how they will increase their support to developing countries to reach $100 billion per year by 2020 (agreed at the 2009 Copenhagen COP). This is the first test of the readiness of developed countries to do a deal in Paris. Developing countries have called for at least $15 billion in pledges to kickstart the Green Climate Fund.
“Wealthy governments must use the UN Secretary General’s September 2014 summit to commit significant funds, including contributions to the Green Climate Fund. Poor and vulnerable communities need this support in order to adapt to the impact of climate change and participate in low-carbon development. The Climate Summit underwrites the negotiations in Lima and Paris. A hot and hungry planet deserves nothing less.”
Oxfam also identified that the European Commission were recycling commitments at this summit on aid funding and had still not committed any funds to the Green Climate Fund. Jean-Cyril Dagorn, Oxfam’s EU climate change expert, said:
“It is good that the European Commission reiterates the EU engagement to dedicate 20 percent of the 2014-2020 EU budget for external action on climate action, and details a few funding pledges. This however is not a new commitment and doesn’t hide the fact that the European Commission has not pledged to the Green Climate Fund.
There is still a huge gap between the promise made at Copenhagen about this fund and the actual pledges and commitments made. The funds already committed are far short of where they need to be, with many industrialized nations still to commit to the fund including the USA and Australia.
There was just over $1.3 Bn in new pledges to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) from Denmark, France, South Korea, Norway, Mexico, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, and Switzerland made at this summit.
Climate campaigner Al Gore was reported by Oxfam as saying:
“After four long years, the cash is starting to land in the Green Climate Fund albeit at little more than a trickle. All eyes are now on those yet to stump up, including the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand, and on the devil in the detail of those pledges made today. The pledges announced here still leave the fund with less than a sixth of the total developed countries should commit.”
There were also several initiatives announced to mobilize private finance for climate action. Al Gore warned that strong standards are needed to ensure the finance was effective and not just green-wash: “We welcome the increasing interest of investors in greening their investments and dumping fossil fuels. But strong standards to guide private finance flows, agreed to by developing countries and affected communities, must be established as a priority to ensure the trillions of dollars that will flow really are green - not green-wash."
Here are the Pledges to the Green Climate Fund made at the Summit:
South Korea: $100m
Czech Republic: $5.5m
Prior to the Summit, pledges had been made by:
Total amount pledge to the fund to date: $2.325m ($2.3 billion).
Oxfam has called for at least $15 billion in public finance to capitalize the Green Climate Fund for its first three years of operations. Current pledges fall far short of that goal.
Al Gore summed up the need for greater ambition saying:
“Extreme weather continues to cost lives and ruin crops, leaving millions more at risk of hunger. This Summit has not on its own done enough to protect our communities and our children’s future, but if leaders leave New York with the voices of the thousands who marched here ringing in their ears, it may yet prove a turning point.”
Original version of this article published at San Fransisco Bay Area Indymedia.
- UN Newsroom 24 September 2014 - UN Climate Summit: Ban Ki-moon Final Summary
- Indybay.org 23 September 2013 - Transcript - Graça Machel: Are pledges enough to avoid the climate change precipice?
- Oxfam media release 14 June 2014 - Impasse on commitments to Green Climate Fund at Bonn climate change conference
- Oxfam media release 23 September 2014 - UN Climate Summit: European Commission pretends to be a climate champion, reiterates previous pledges
- Oxfam media release 24 September 2014 - UN Climate Summit: Leaders must leave New York with voice of citizens ringing in their ears
- Lead Image by FOE International - Green Climate Fund rally (2011) - (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)