Small island nations with only a little over a decade to prepare for accelerating global heating need large injections of climate finance to avert disaster, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley told a Green Climate Fund (GCF) forum during the international climate change meeting in Glasgow.
“The Green Climate Fund is an essential part of the international financial landscape that we need in order to make progress,” said Mottley, making keynote remarks to the GCF event.
“The period of adaptation is now 12 to 15 years if we are to avert the worst,” Prime Minister Mottley said. “We are really up against the wall with respect to the timeline we have to adapt.” She noted that droughts and the spread of noxious algae blooms across her Small Island Developing State’s (SIDS’) seashores are “daily eating away at our capacity to survive.”
“it is critical that we mobilise all resources together,” stated the Prime Minister, adding that many developing countries are highly indebted and that new climate finance solutions need to account for this.
GCF hosted the leadership dialogue “Catalysing climate investments in developing countries in the context of COVID-19” on Tuesday on the side lines of COP 26 to discuss how the accelerating climate crisis is impacting developing countries and how to fund solutions. The event brought together the Prime Minister, together with Ministers from three other developing countries which are also experiencing the impacts of the climate crisis: Rwanda, Fiji and Bangladesh.
“We are not on track to reach the Paris Agreement goals,” noted GCF Executive Director Yannick Glemarec, referring to a recent World Meteorological Organization report indicating a surge of emissions in 2020, despite a temporary dip from COVID-19 lockdowns.
While richer nations need to realise the pledge to provide USD 100 billion in yearly climate finance to shore up global trust, Glemarec said that much larger flows of finance must be catalysed to fund climate action.
“We will need a dramatic increase in finance, a dramatic increase of new type of assets, and in assets that address the social and humanitarian needs of our time,” he said, indicating that USD 1 to 4 trillion dollars a year is needed to shift the world to low-emission climate resilient development.
The Executive Director said GCF was employing its resources as the world’s largest dedicated climate fund, with a USD 10 billion portfolio that incorporates USD 37 billion when accounting for co-financing, to scale up paradigm-shifting funds for developing countries.
GCF is doing this through a four-pronged approach which promotes an enabling environment for climate action, accelerates innovation, mobilises finance at scale, and helps to align finance with sustainable development, he said.
One of GCF’s main priorities was “ensuring that developing countries can access the resources needed to craft green economic recovery measures for the COVID-19 pandemic and explore financing instruments to implement them without increasing their debt burden,” said Glemarec.
His call to focus on the key role of innovation to deploy new and existing climate solutions was echoed by Bangladesh’s Minister of State with its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed Shahriar Alam.
“Climate financing should focus and accelerate the transfer and deployment of affordable and accessible clean green and advanced technology,” he said. The Minister added the need to upscale climate finance should consider the possible increase of climate migrants displaced by sea level rise, increased salinity, erosion and drought.
A key theme of the GCF leadership dialogue was the need to reverse the current imbalance between the financing of measures reducing emissions and adjusting to climate change. Of the USD 79.6 billion in climate finance that donor governments contributed in 2019, only a quarter went to climate adaptation, according to the OECD.
“The building of (climate) resilience is critical,” said Fiji’s Minister Responsible for Climate Change Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. “Since COVID-19 we have had three cyclones. In one of the cyclones, we had more rainfall in 24 hours than London gets in one year,” said Sayed-Khaiyum, who is also Fiji’s Attorney General and Economy Minister.
GCF has been striving to meet calls by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to resolve the huge gap in adaptation funding from climate finance providers by allocating half of its climate finance to adaptation, reflecting GCF’s mandate for a balanced allocation of resources in adaptation and mitigation.
Climate finance is a key issue during COP26, held over two weeks in Glasgow. It is widely recognised that increased climate finance to developing countries is a key part of sustaining climate action momentum well beyond the global gathering in Glasgow.
Rwanda’s Environment Minister Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya told the GCF leadership dialogue: “To achieve Rwanda’s ambitious climate plan, we continue to value GCF funding as a reliable partner in this journey.”
The UNFCCC established GCF to support developing countries raise and realise their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) ambitions towards low-emissions, climate-resilient pathways.
See here for more updates on GCF activities at COP26.