Climate Finance Recipients: the Most Vulnerable or the Most Accessible?
By Mahlet Melkie, Climate and Society ’13
Climate change is threating the lives of human beings, wildlife and the ecosystem and its impacts are being felt, expected to get worse and affect the most vulnerable especially children, women and the elderly. Regions with less adaptive capacity such as Africa, Small Island States and also Least Developed Countries will be the hardest hit. Climate finance is needed in order to cope with, adapt and also mitigate the change. In 2009 at fifteenth Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) developed countries committed $30 billion for 2010-2012 as fast-start finance and $100 billion per year by 2020 as long-term finance to support adaptation and mitigation works of developing countries. However lessons from fast-start period indicates that aid money is labeled and allocated to developing countries as climate finance. One thing to keep in mind is that climate change is an extra burden that exacerbates the challenges and problems therefore it should not replace official development assistance.
The other contentious issue is the numbers; $30 billion and $100 billion are not scientific figures that were based on the need assessment of developing countries. Researchers have shown various figures that are well beyond these numbers. Additionally, estimating the exact cost of adaptation is very difficult as most impacts are uncertain and also depends on aggregate mitigation- more mitigation means less adaptation needed. It was during the Subsidiary Body sessions in Bonn last month that the news about New York City’s adaptation plan that was asking for $419.5 billion came out. If one city with adaptive capacity is estimating its adaptation needs to be around one fifth of the long-term finance, how can the $100 billion be enough to the most vulnerable countries? The other issue is how the money was allocated and who the beneficiaries are. For instance most mitigation finance goes to emerging economies such as China, India and South Africa. Moreover, imbalance between mitigation and adaptation support has been an issue during the fast-start finance period.
Being away to school and not following the UNFCCC process for a year and now getting back to it gave me a fixed feeling. I asked myself what has progressed in the past year? I am afraid, not much. It is encouraging to see that the board of the Green Climate Fund has selected its host and also Executive Director but is still an empty fund. The Standing Committee on Climate Finance responsible for oversight of all climate finances held its fourth meeting in Bonn. Though members have progressed on some of the issues they couldn’t come to an agreement on the most contentions issues. Parties are still discussing about need for defining climate finance, balancing adaptation and mitigation and how to raise money from public, private and innovative sources of finance without concrete action plans.
Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) being an international advocacy group with a vision to promote gender equality and integrity of environment advocates mainstreaming gender to climate change decisions, projects and programs. Most of the time women are seen as victims of climate change and involve them only in adaptation projects but they also play a big role in mitigation. In line with this, being a fellow at WEDO, I am working on climate finance at the international level and closely looking at three cases of mitigation projects to assess how these projects have integrated women in their planning and implementation. Based on the findings advocacy talking points will further be developed.