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Crunch time for the Green Climate Fund

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When Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board Members meet next week in Songdo in the Republic of Korea, they may have the distinct feeling of being watched. In fact, many eyes will be on this crucial meeting, because it could well determine the fate of what is widely seen as the central mechanism for supporting developing country participation in addressing the global climate crisis.

Last year the Board decided that adopting policies in 8 essential areas was the pre-condition for the Fund to become operational and to initiate the long-awaited mobilisation of its financing.

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So far they have decided upon only 2 of these issues. The remaining 6 areas are key to determining the GCF’s structure and operations, and enabling it to play a transformational role in shifting away from polluting, dangerous technologies, as well as ensuring that clear criteria and strong social and environmental safeguards are in place This will be the Board’s 7th meeting since being formed more than 2 years ago, and the issues and options are well known and have been extensively discussed.

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There is little reason to believe that further delay will yield better results. It’s time to make some key decisions and get on with its important work – providing financial support to developing countries for actions to reduce the emissions causing climate change and to adapt to its consequences.

It is not only developing countries that are depending on the GCF’s start up. Many developed countries are ready to begin pledging funds — having already appropriated them or otherwise prepared themselves to begin the funding process this year. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is doing his part to raise high-level attention, offering to put GCF funding on the agenda of the September Climate Leaders’ Summit he will convene in New York City.

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Developing countries are being asked to contribute to the global response to climate change by transitioning to a development path based on low emissions and climate resilience. To accelerate the adoption of low emissions technologies such as renewable energy and efficient energy systems, they need assurances of financial and technical assistance. They are also expecting help with the enormous investments required to reduce their vulnerability to already inevitable adverse impacts of climate change.

The next round of global climate negotiations will be held in Lima at the end of this year. Were the GCF to receive at least US$10 billion in pledges for its initial phase of support to the developing world, this would provide a crucial sign that the global community is coming together in response the climate change challenge. Success breeds success, and good news from Songdo would give a fresh impetus to the negotiations, both towards an ambitious deal in Paris at the end of next year for the post-2020 period, but perhaps more importantly, enhancing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions between now and 2020. Discussions are under way on scaling up energy efficiency and renewable measures, as well as city level measures and forest protection, and key to these efforts will be to ensure a reliable and transparent flow of financing.

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The prospect of a transparent, effective, responsive and transformative GCF, with sizable initial funding, is now within reach. Board members and the governments they represent will have a lot to answer for if they let this chance slip through their fingers. Success now would build trust, confidence and momentum, supporting concrete actions that can expand the range of the possible as the global community copes with causes and consequences of climate change.

Mark Lutes, based in Sao Paulo, Brazil, is a senior policy coordinator for WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative. marklutes@wwf.panda.org

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