Climate fund to be decided in Durban, climate activists worry about business role

Through the fourth day of the 17th Conference of Parties (COP 17) in Durban, South Africa, national representatives heatedly debated on the issue of reopening for discussion the draft governing instrument of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) which was submitted by the Transitional Committee for COP adoption.

Groups belonging to the European Union, Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), Environmental Integrity Group (EIG) and Africa deemed it necessary and sufficient for a financial institutional agreement. The US, which has blocked the consensus on the draft instrument in the last meeting of the Transitional Committee in an effort to bring in its concerns that include incentives for private investments, expectedly called for further work on the design.

The group aligned with ALBA (Alianza Bolivariana de Nuestra America), seconded by Egypt,  raised alarm over the lack of certain elements in the draft instrument which would hinder democratic access to resources.  They cited the draft instrument’s lack of provisions for the fund to have an international legal personality, to work under the guidance of the Conference of Parties, and to be explicit that no conflict of interest between the fiduciary and executive trustee functions and country ownership of projects.

Other parties and groups however argued that reopening the discussion would be counterproductive. They also pointed out the urgency of operationalizing the financial mechanism in Durban.  The impasse was agreed to be resolved through consultations among the parties and groups in the Conference of Parties. A daily bulletin monitoring the negotiations likened the reopening of discussions on the fund to Pandora’s Box. Be that as it may, Philippine climate activists slammed these developments in the talks.

“These climate talks are ridiculous, as the US which has shunned a legally binding agreement to reduce emissions, is being allowed to openly sabotage what should be a science-based international agreement to save humanity and the planet. Venezuela and ALBA group have very good reason to open the discussion to refine the draft instrument, yet, the parties are hostaged by real threats to further water down the results of a climate funding mechanism that the developing world sorely needs,” said Frances Quimpo of the Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines (CEC).

“Developing countries are not only being short-changed but also deceived in the proposed GCF. Capitalist countries like the US, UK and Japan continue to dangle the carrot to poor countries by promising to fund the GCF but actually are false commitments or just hot air,” says Clemente G. Bautista of International League of People’s struggle (ILPS) and Kalikasan PNE.

Since 2009,  the US, with its retinue of parties, have promised  in the Copenhagen Accord and Cancun Agreement  that $100 billion will be distributed every year to developing countries through the Green Climate Fund, by 2020.  This was in exchange for the major shifts they have created in the processes and principles of the climate negotiations.

Bernarditas Mueller, a veteran negotiator of the Philippine delegation, has earlier lamented that the Cancun Agreement has made a fundamental shift in obligations, “weakening those of developed countries and turning over the main burden of mitigation to developing countries.”  She explained that attempts to deny developed countries’ historical  responsibility also negates the commitments of developed countries to provide financial resources and promote transfer of and access to environmentally sound technologies, as well as meeting costs of adaptation.

“Climate funds, especially for adaptation should be in the form of grants, and should be new and additional, predictable and adequate.  If at all funds for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) are forthcoming and private investors are allowed to have further roles in it, the climate change problems that our people are enduring will only be regarded as business opportunities to rake in profit, which would be nothing new to the onerous loans that have for decades driven developing countries to indebtedness and abject poverty,” explained Quimpo.

“Loans from international financial institutions for climate change projects have already come into the Philippines and other developing countries.  These loans have been used to fund projects that are environmentally destructive and aggravate global warming like large-hydro and coal power plants, such as the World Bank co-financed 600MW Calaca and Masinloc coal-fired power plants in the Philippines,” said Bautista.

“These are also the reasons why capitalist countries like the US wanted to increase the role of the private sector and financial institution to GCF. The climate fund would be an opportunity for them to do business and profit from mitigation and adaptation initiatives of poor countries like the Philippines,” Bautista added.

“The Philippine government should step up in the climate talks and demand that the GCF be adequately funded by the industrialized countries in recognition of their historical ecological debt.  Likewise, developing nations, activists, CSOs, and similar stakeholders must continue vigilance against profiteering by industrialized countries and big businesses in the climate talks.   Climate financing should be managed by the United Nations. Businesses and private banks should be kept out of GCF,” ended Bautista.
Reference: Clemente Bautista 0792870936; Frances Quimpo:  [email protected]

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