Notes from COP 21: Green Climate Fund
At the Paris COP today, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) directors announced the approval of the organization’s first eight projects. These investments will provide US$168 million for greenhouse gas emission reduction and climate resiliency efforts in African, Latin American, and the Asian and Pacific island nations. The projects range from investments in industrial-sector energy efficiency, to ecosystem restoration, water and wastewater infrastructure improvements, and development of climate change early warning systems.
The projects represent only the first wave GCF financial flows that are anticipated to increase considerably if the Paris negotiations are successful. The GCF has already collected over US$10 billion from donor nations. With additional contributions, the funds will likely become one of the most important drivers of low-carbon development and climate resiliency initiatives in the developing world. The funds have a clear mandate to protect the climate, serve national development goals, and ensure movement away from business-as-usual technologies and practices. The GCF investment and project criteria will catalyze low-emission and resilient economic growth and are expected to drive major transitions in the energy, water, transportation, forestry, and adaptation sectors.
Impressively, the GCF has moved from its initial launch to funding actual projects within less than a year. Even though the GCF has very strict selection criteria, nations have expressed considerable interest. In its first months of operation, 120 project concept notes and 37 full funding proposals have been submitted. Hela Cheikhrouhou, the GCF executive director, stated that after the Paris COP, the board of directors will develop a detailed strategic plan that will define how the fund will successfully scale to handle the considerable increase in investments anticipated in the coming years.
If the organization’s momentum and the developed nations’ contributions continue, then the GCF is likely to become one of the critical elements in humanity’s effort to reduce global emissions, protect the most vulnerable communities, and improve peoples’ daily lives.
Culley Thomas is a senior strategic planner, climate and sustainability, AECOM