Civil Society to UN Advisory Group on Climate Finance: You Are ‘On the Wrong Track’

October 7, 2010

As the UN Secretary General’s High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing (AGF) works to complete a review of sources of climate funding by the end of October, climate justice groups are voicing increasing concern over the focus of the AGF and the process through which its report is being developed.

Ilana Solomon, Policy Analyst for ActionAid USA, said, “Constituencies advocating for climate justice fear the Advisory Group’s report will be framed in the context of the Copenhagen Accord. This is inappropriate, particularly as the Accord, which has not been adopted by the Conference of Parties, is extremely limited in its scope on finance.”

The Copenhagen Accord sets out a goal of mobilizing only $100 billion in public and private sources for adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. “This is far short of what is really needed to support those already experiencing the effects of climate change,” Solomon added.

Susanne Gura, Policy Analyst at UK-based EcoNexus, cautioned, “The AGF is marginalizing the role of public finance and is instead pushing carbon markets. These markets are particularly vulnerable to fraud and are subject to the same detrimental features of financial markets that led to the recent recession. Financial risk must not be added to the climate crisis.”

“It is a question of political will. Developed countries must raise public funds for the South to adapt to climate change and develop while keeping their emissions low,” Gura added.

Yoke Ling Chee, Director of the Third World Network, observed, “The AGF is inappropriately helping to carve out an expanding role for the World Bank and other multilateral development banks [MDBs] in climate finance. How to channel climate money is outside the mandate of this group.”

Chee said, “Leaders should demand that multilateral development banks clean up their record of human rights violations and fossil fuel lending before giving them any role in climate funding.”

Janet Redman, Co-Director of the Institute for Policy Studies’ Sustainable Energy & Economy Network, said, “The AGF’s deliberations lack transparency and its engagement with civil society has been mere tokenism.”

“Given what is known to date about the AGF’s approach, it difficult to imagine how civil society will reflect positively on the outcome of the AGF,” added Redman.


UN High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing


Climate finance must reflect the scale of need, be unconditional, and rooted in the UNFCCC

Hundreds of billions of dollars will be needed each year in developing countries to adapt to a warming world and to shift to low-carbon development. It is enshrined in the UN climate convention that developed countries will provide financial support to developing countries to make this transition. However, some developed country governments (notably the United States) are attempting to make finance conditional on new mitigation and transparency demands on developing countries and on a country’s support for the Copenhagen Accord.

Further, by framing the AGF report in the language of Copenhagen Accord and limiting its scope to identifying sources of only $100 billion, the AGF is contributing to mistrust among nations and undermining global negotiations.

Public sources are critical and within our reach
The AGF appears poised to play down the role of public finance and underestimate its potential revenue generation in favor of carbon markets and private finance. Carbon trading is an easy out for developed countries because it allows them to meet emissions targets on the cheap by paying for mitigation projects in poorer nations while continuing to pollute at home. Yet carbon markets have shown little contribution to lowering global emissions or clean development in the global South.

The G77 and China have called for developed countries to transfer 1.5% of GDP in public money for international climate finance. Several mechanisms exist that could be combined to match the scale of the need, including a combination of financial transaction taxes, carbon taxes, green Special Drawing Rights, and shifting fossil fuel subsidies to renewable energy. Public sources of financing are critical for activities associated with adaptation, for making renewable clean technologies competitive, and to signal developed countries’ commitment to a climate deal.

Multilateral development banks are not funding sources
The AGF will focus one stream of work on generating funds from multilateral development banks (MDBs) like the World Bank. Any evaluation of MDBs as a channel for climate finance falls outside of the mandate of the AGF. Additionally, the logic for including banks in and of themselves as sources of climate finance is flawed. MDBs’ ability to leverage the issuance of bonds or reduce risk on private investment is not a genuine source of new and additional funds.

Without transparency, there is no legitimacy
Members of the AGF will be seeking support from civil society for their upcoming report, but have not made working papers, reference materials, or the identity of contributors to the group’s deliberations public. Although the AGF has consulted with some civil society groups, without any transparency around the actual substance of the report and the discussions within the AGF, there is little room for civil society to have meaningful impact on the group’s findings.

The AGF should make all materials publicly available for comment and reflect public feedback in the final report.

Nick Berning, Friends of the Earth U.S., +86-131-020-994-25,
[email protected] (in Tianjin)
Yoke Ling Chee, Third World Network, +86-139-100-715-67,
[email protected] (in Tianjin)
Janet Redman, Institute for Policy Studies, +1-508-340-0464,
[email protected] (in Washington, D.C.)

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