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GCF replenishment wins strong endorsement at COP24

Katowice,
The Green Climate Fund’s current replenishment drive received top-level support from developing and developed nations during the international climate change meeting in Poland.

A number of government ministers highlighted GCF’s central role in building the global momentum needed to meet the climate challenge during the “Successful Start, Ambitious Future” official Side Event charting GCF’s progress and future held on Wednesday in the margins of COP24 now underway in the Polish city of Katowice.

Svenja Schulze, Germany’s Minister of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety told a full-capacity crowd her country “stands by GCF and its goals.” “We are doubling our contribution, and we want to motivate other donors to do likewise,” she said.

Speaking on behalf of Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment, Ole Elvestuen, Georg Borsting, Policy Director from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reiterated Norway’s recent announcement that it intends to double its support to the Fund.

Yoshiaki Harada, Japan’s Minister of the Environment, recognised that GCF is still a young organisation, and needs to grow. He stated, “We expect GCF to actively care for the needs of developing countries, especially in light of the many disasters of extreme weather.”

Opening the GCF side event, Paul Oquist highlighted the urgency of the climate challenge, and the key role for GCF in supporting developing countries. He congratulated Germany and Norway for their announcements of doubling support for GCF and urged a successful and ambitious replenishment for the Fund. 

Javier Manzanares, GCF Executive Director ad interim, then told the side event there is “an immense opportunity for GCF to be a global leader in driving ambitious climate impact and paradigm shift.”

Mr Manzanares highlighted the large potential for GCF to fulfil its potential to provide financing to meet growing developing country ambition for climate action. During only three years since the Fund has been approving climate projects, it has committed USD 4.6 billion to 93 projects in 96 countries, he said.

Speaking at the event, Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, the Special Climate Change Representative of the UN Secretary General, passed on the support of the Secretary-General for GCF’s replenishment, and put the replenishment into the context of the Secretary-General’s Climate Summit, to take place in September 2019. Whilst stating that GCF is only part of the solution for climate finance, he recognised that a successful replenishment will send an important signal about the trajectory of climate finance flows needed to implement the Paris Agreement. 

The two-week climate change meeting, COP24, began on a positive note for GCF with an announcement by the German Government it will double its pledge to GCF to 1.5 billion Euros. This was followed by  Norway’s announcement that it will double its contribution to GCF’s replenishment. Meanwhile, Ireland also indicated at the side event that it will commit additional financing to the Fund by the end of this year.

A key theme among the speakers gathered at the event was the need for GCF to expand its ability to meet the increasing urgency of climate change, and to upscale its ability to help developing countries deal with it.

Bill Hare, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Climate Analytics, said huge changes are necessary to get the world back on track to a safe course, highlighted by the recent IPCC report warning of the dangers of a world that is one and a half degrees warmer.

“Realizing the transformation goals of the GCF will require major shifts in investment,” he said.

Echoing the need to raise ambition for climate action, Yasmine Fouad, Egypt’s Minister of Environment, said if there is “no paradigm shift, there will be no change and we will not be able to achieve the 1.5C goal.” She continued, “GCF was created to be different, to be unique. We all fought for that.”

One of those countries already buffeted by harsh climate impacts is Kiribati. Comprising 33 low-lying islands spread across the size of the United States, this Pacific Small Island Developing State is on the frontline of climate change.  The county’s Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Teuea Toatu, depicted the importance of GCF and its ability to replenish its funds in stark terms.

“The GCF is the single most important fund,” he said. “It is the Fund vulnerable countries rely on for our survival. It is our only hope.”

Rémy Rioux, Chief Executive Officer of AFD, and Terry McCallion, Director of Energy Efficiency and Climate Change at EBRD, provided views from the perspective of GCF’s Accredited Entities. They emphasised the added value of working with GCF. Rioux heralded the recent adoption of the AFD project ‘Transforming Financial Systems for Climate’, adopted at the most recent GCF Board meeting in October, as a climate initiative that would drive climate finance investments across a large number of developing countries. McCallion added, “Our partnership with GCF allows us to speed things up and get to scale fast.” 

The next year will be crucial for GCF as it seeks to expand its support from countries, regions and cities that can pledge for its replenishment. 

GCF Co-Chair Lennart Bage (from Sweden), closed the side event. He highlighted the achievements of GCF, but noted that, “we have moved from millions to billions, but we need to move to trillions.” 

He concluded that “replenishing GCF is the most important climate event of 2019.”