March 25, 2014

Unusually Intense El Nino May Lie Ahead, Scientists Say

Unusually Intense El Nino May Lie Ahead, Scientists Say

Locals watch a Royal Australian Air Force Hercules providing El Nino-related drought relief in Papua New Guinea, Monday, September 22, 1997.
BY ANDREW FREEDMANSince climate forecasters declared an "El Niño Watch" on March 6, the odds of such an event in the tropical Pacific Ocean have increased, and based on recent developments, some scientists think this event may even rival the record El Niño event of 1997-1998. If that does happen, then 2015 would almost be guaranteed to set a record for the warmest year on Earth, depending on the timing of the El Niño conditions.
El Niño and La Niña events refer to fluctuations in air and ocean conditions in the tropical Pacific. El Niño events are characterized by warmer than average sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific, and they add heat to the atmosphere, thereby warming global average temperatures. They typically occur once every three to seven years and can also alter weather patterns around the world, causing droughts and floods from the West Coast of the U.S. to Papua New Guinea.
El Niño events tend to dampen hurricane activity in the North Atlantic, and some research has even linked El Niño events to civil conflicts in Africa.
When combined with global warming from greenhouse gas emissions and other sources, El Niño events greatly increase the odds that a given year will set a new global temperature record,as occurred in 1998.
Tony Barnston, the chief forecaster at Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), told Mashable that the odds of an El Niño event developing during the next six months have increased to about 60%, which is up from just over 50% on March 6.
Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies
Global sea surface temperature anomalies, showing milder than average conditions in parts of the tropical Pacific.
The Pacific Ocean exists in a constant state of unease, like an ocean badly in need of a mood stabilizer. Trade winds blow along and to the north of the equator from east to west, piling up warm ocean waters in the western Pacific, and causing sea levels to be higher in the west than they are in the east. Like a tipping bathtub, this setup can quickly be reversed with a reversal in trade winds and a sloshing of the warm sea surface temperatures from the western Pacific to the east, first at depth in a series of undersea waves known as Kelvin waves, and next toward the surface as the warm waters rise off the west coast of South America.
This complex chain of events, in which the atmosphere and the ocean act in concert to set up El Niño conditions, is well under way now. Starting in January of this year, there have been a series of strong bursts of winds coming out of the west in the equatorial tropical Pacific, and these have essentially replaced the typical easterly trade winds.
Partly as a result of these wind bursts, ocean buoys and satellites have detected the movement of unusually warm ocean waters from the western Pacific to the east. Ocean surface currents, which normally move westward across the Pacific basin, have reversed as well. El Niño forecasters have taken this as a further sign of a developing El Niño, and these conditions were a key reason why an El Niño Watch was issued on March 6.
Eric Blake, a hurricane specialist at NOAA’s National Hurricane Center in Miami, said conditions are changing rapidly in the Pacific, going from 50/50 odds of an El Niño, to a setup that eerily resembles the circumstances that preceded the monster El Niño of ‘97-'98.
“It’s something we haven’t really seen since the '97 El Niño,” Blake said of the westerly wind bursts and ocean observations. Instead of having trade winds blowing from the east at five to 10 mph, some locations in the western Pacific have had winds from the west blowing at up to 30 miles per hour, Blake says. This is important because it has ripple effects on the sea and below the sea surface.
“[It’s] not that we can’t step away from it, but with each passing day [an El Niño event is] becoming more likely,” Blake told Mashable.
Paul Roundy, a meteorology professor at the University at Albany, State University of New York, said that the westerly wind bursts have been extremely strong compared to historical records. Two of these events in particular, Roundy says, “were of similar amplitude to the events that preceded the 1997 El Niño.”
In addition, the warm waters moving eastward under the surface have been measured as much as nine degrees Fahrenheit above average, which is greater than similar waves observed prior to the 1997 El Niño event. “The present event is actually bigger than it was in 1997,” said Roundy.
Roundy cautioned that this doesn’t necessarily mean that the current event will be stronger than 1997-98 was, but it does raise red flags.
TAO Status
Map showing the TAO buoys, with buoys reporting recent data colored in yellow and those without recent data in red.
Wind patterns in the next two months will help determine whether an El Niño actually forms, and how strong it becomes. For example, even a temporary reversal of trade winds back to more typical conditions could dampen the eastward moving wave of warm water. So far, though, this hasn’t happened.
“Instead of switching to easterly winds there’s been an actual continuation of westerly winds,” Roundy said.
One problem that forecasters encounter when trying to foresee the likelihood and intensity of El Niño events is that there is limited historical data of the vast Pacific Ocean. Observational data only dates back to about 1990, Roundy says.
Making matters more difficult for forecasters is the recent degradation of a crucial buoy network used for El Niño and La Niña monitoring. Budget cuts have led to missing data, with the network known as the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean Project, or TAO array, operating at just 30 to 40% percent of capacity.
Roundy said the chances of an unusually strong El Niño event “Are much higher than average, it’s difficult to put a kind of probability of it … I’ve suggested somewhere around 80%”
“The conditions of the Pacific ocean right now are as favorable for a major event as they were in march of 1997. That’s no major guarantee that a major event develops but clearly it would increase the likelihood of a major event occurring,” Roundy says.
Barnston said any similarities of current conditions in the Pacific to those seen before the 1997-98 El Niño are an insufficient basis for forecasting an intense event. “As for the strength of the event, it is not known. Just seeing similarities with 1997 is not enough to go on," Barnston toldMashable in an email. "Unless we continue to get westerly wind events in the coming weeks, there is no guarantee that it will be a big event, and there is a 40% or so chance we will not get an El Niño at all,” he told Mashable in an email.
Roundy and Blake also urged caution about concluding that an El Niño event is nearly certain to occur, and that it will be intense. Rather, Blake said, the situation bears close watching.

“Anytime you have a non-negligible chance of something extreme happening, and you see it happening in a way that you haven’t seen in 15 to 20 years, it’s interesting,” says Blake.

March 14, 2014

Youtube link of the interaction with Pablo Solon at IIC, Delhi (11th March 2014)

Below is the youtube link of the interaction with Pablo held on 11 March 2014 at the India International Centre. The event was organized by Beyond Copenhagen Collective and Focus on the Global South.

Video Link:

More parts of the interaction will be uploaded in parts and shared soon. 

Invitation for "An Interaction with Pablo Solon" - organized by BCPH and Focus on Global South

Focus on the Global South and Beyond Copenhagen invites you at

Climate Change and Sustainable Development; From a Minimalistic to a Transformative Agenda and Role of Emerging Economies

An Interaction with Pablo Solon (Director, Focus on the Global South and Former Lead Negotiator of Bolivia)
11th March 2014, 01.00 pm, Seminar Hall No. 3, IIC New Block, Max Muller Marg, Delhi
Climate change and unsustainable development is one of the defining challenges of the century. The worst sufferers of the crisis are poor people in the global South who have no contribution in brining about this crisis. The developed and rich countries are still busy in obfuscating the issue and shifting the burden to the third world. The situation demands wartime action. It commands immediate reduction in emissions by developed and emerging economies with adequate support from rich and industrialized countries in tune with their historic responsibilities and appropriation of atmospheric space in a manner based on equity, justice and science. However, globally what we are looking at even today is a minimalistic agenda content with tweaking the system rather than attempting a paradigmatic transformation.

Today there is absolutely no ambiguity about what is required. People in different parts of the world have been vociferous about in many ways. We are living in times where streets and squares of numerous cities of world are turning into sites of revolutions. From Arab Spring to Occupy wall street; from Southern Europe to Brazil and Turkey, everyday people are paying by their lives to reclaim justice and equality, and corruption free and accountable governments. There is an ever increasing and overwhelming distrust of the metanarrative of development, which creates inequity, hunger and war and which is based on over exploitation of nature and people. There is also a loud message about the peoples imagination of the world they want. This is imagination of a radical change in political and economic systems of the world and of a transformative and redistributive agenda.
Pablo will speak on how the current minimalistic agenda on climate change and sustainable development and how it can be transformed into an ambitious one, role of emerging economies including India in this transformation and whether they are ready to assume the mantle. We look forward to see you at this stimulating discussion. We will start with lunch at 01.00 pm. A line in confirmation will be appreciated.

Afsar Jafri  Ajay K Jha
Focus on the global South India  Beyond Copnehagen
Mobile: 09582070803  Mobile: 09717771255

Weather Station Capacity Building Workshop

Media consultation and awareness builfing on Post-2015 Development Agenda, Climate Change and People's Manifesto

Ms. Manu Shrivastava from CECOEDECON gave a presentation on the 'Post-2015 Development Process' to media personnel and members of the Kisan Seva Samiti attending the media consultation in Niwai. During the presentation, it was explained how this process of global development agenda came into being; work streams associated it; it's impact on various stakeholders; role of CECOEDECON and the role media can play in awareness building, knowledge sharing and sensitization of the community for improved participation.

The year 2015 is very crucial in the international development process timeline as it marks the end of Millennium Development Goals. At the same time, the world hopes to have a 'post-2015 development agenda with sustainable development at its core'. To that effect, two parallel processes, to be converged in 2015, are engaging the development community – Post-2015 Development Agenda & Sustainable Development Goals. The presentation also discussed work streams for both processes and interlinkages – such as the System Task Team, national and regional consultations, High Level Panel for Eminent Persons for the former and Open Working Group and High Level Political Forum for the latter. In the end, the importance of disseminating this information at the local level was emphasized, along with ways by which grassroots can help set the agenda in these forums.

Southern CSO Statement on the Green Climate Fund, Bali (February 2014)

No more deception! No more excuses! Climate Finance now!
A Green Climate Fund for People and Planet and not Private Profit!
The delivery of climate finance for developing countries is one of the commitments and obligations of developed country governments under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and is one of the pillars of the Bali Road Map agreed during the UNFCCC Conference of Parties held here in Bali in December 2007.

Climate Finance is urgently needed to enable developing countries to deal with the impacts of climate change, build climate resilience, and shift to low carbon development pathways. In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines leaving more than 6,000 people dead, several million people displaced, and more than 879 million US dollars cost of damages to infrastructures and agriculture.[1] In January, heavy rains drenched a huge portion of Indonesia causing massive floods, deadly landslides and more than 40,000 displaced individuals. The total cost of damage is estimated at 80 million US dollars[2].  There is the prolonged drought in the Horn and East Africa, the freak phenomena of floods in Mozambique and the Somali Puntland Hurricane in November 2013 which killed around 300 people, and the climate change – induced natural resources scarcity in the savanna belt of Africa (e.g. Darfur) that is giving rise to conflicts and severe food crisis.[3]

The Board of the Green Climate Fund is now holding its sixth meeting at the Nusa Dua Convention Center in Bali, Indonesia.

The Green Climate Fund was established by the UNFCCC Conference on Parties to ensure that appropriate and adequate climate finance is delivered equitably and fairly to all developing countries, that funds are used responsibly and properly for adaptation and mitigation programmes, and that these programmes are designed and implemented by developing countries themselves with the participation of affected communities and sectors. Important decisions are being made now and in the next few months, that will affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people of developing countries that are already suffering the terrible impacts of climate change and the billions more whose lives, livelihoods and futures are under grave threat.

We are gravely alarmed over the following developments in the processes and decisions now unfolding in the Green Climate Fund:

1.      Despite their mandate and avowed commitment to ensure meaningful and effective involvement of civil society in GCF meetings and activities –

     The GCF Board and Secretariat have not adequately provided for the logistical requirements for this – for instance the Secretariat has outrightly refused to provide invitation letters for visa application of CSO representatives that have been accredited and registered to attend GCF Board meetings.
    The GCF Board is also failing to respect civil society processes of selecting its designated representatives to GCF committees and bodies such as the Private Sector Advisory Group, and has instead appointed “CSO representatives” without clear and transparent basis.
2.     There is a clear bias among many members of the Board, especially those from developed countries, for developing the Private Sector Facility (PSF) of the GCF. Private sector financing is the preferred solution to climate change problems. It is also clear that by Private Sector – they mean big corporations and big capital. This bias is reflected in the papers prepared for Board approval.  The PSF will involve using public funds to finance private sector involvement in climate programs. They rationalize that public funds are limited and therefore it is best used for encouraging the private sector to invest in climate programs. Private sector involvement, from our experience, means the generation of profits as the primary driver of climate programs rather than the welfare of people and the environment.
3.   There is a lot of talk about loans as a major instrument of the Green Climate Fund and current proposals include the type of loans that may end up with significant interest rates.  Such loans are contrary to the principle of climate finance as an obligation on the part of developed countries because of their responsibility for climate change. They caused the problem and are now asking the peoples of developing countries not only to pay for dealing with its impacts but to pay with interest.
4.     Country ownership is supposedly one of the key principles of the Green Climate Fund but the papers dealing with Country Ownership and other topics in which it is deeply relevant such as Access, Eligibility, Approval Process and others, do not constitute a strong application of the principle but rather waters it down.  What is clear is the push for a powerful Secretariat of the Green Climate Fund.
5.  The provisions for Socioeconomic, Gender and Environmental Safeguards, for Transparency and Accountability, for Multi-stakeholder Involvement contained in the papers for approval are incredibly weak and do not guarantee that informed community consent is a requirement for projects.

In addition to the alarming trends in the discussions and decisions around the Green Climate Fund, the biggest disappointment and injustice is the lack of commitment and actual delivery of funds since 2013 and in the foreseeable future. The pledge of “$100 billion dollars annually by the year 2020” remains ambiguous and uncertain. It has been three years since the amount was pledged in Cancun, but to this day, the money is still up in the air. There is observed shift of goal post and change of language from commitment to mobilization to help avoid their responsibility.

As members of the civil society and social movements from the South, we believe all these are unacceptable. The GCF is a fund for our people. 

1.      We demand clear respect and recognition for country ownership, determined not by government agencies alone, but through robust public participation and consent in the formulation, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of climate responsive activities and financing.
2.     We demand greater accountability and equity to be built into the GCF; structures, processes, consultations and participations, programs, finance and project cycles at the global, national and sub-national levels.
3.     We demand the GCF to respect human rights and put the needs of ordinary people and those who are most vulnerable to the climate crisis, over and above the interests of private financers and corporations whose utmost concern is profit.
4.     We urge the developed country governments to face up to their responsibilities for the climate crisis and carry out their obligations to the people of developing countries through tangible sufficient financial commitments to the GCF that are not through loans or debt creating instruments and not through financing of the private sector.
5.     We have repeatedly lost thousands of lives, communities and livelihoods and we are still left with little means to build resilience and adapt to present and future impacts of climate change, much less to rebuild and recover from massive unavoidable losses and damages. We have contributed least to this crisis yet we are among the most affected.

We have had enough deception. We have had enough excuses. We demand climate finance now! We demand a Green Climate Fund that serves the welfare of people and planet and not private  profit.

Jubilee Asia Pacific Movement on Debt & Development
Centre for Community Economics and Development Consultants Society (CECOEDECON), India
Beyond Copenhagen Collective, India
Pan African Climate Justice Alliance
Sudanese Environment Conservation Society
Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities
Freedom from Debt Coalition Philippines
WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia
The Ecological Society Philippines
Institute for Essential Services Reform Indonesia
Koalisi Anti Utang Indonesia
Philippine Movement for Climate Justice
SANLAKAS Philippines
Youth Against Debt Eastern Visayas Philippines
Aksi! for Gender, Social and Environmental Justice Indonesia
KRuHA Indonesia
IBON International
Sawit Watch Indonesia
Solidaritas Perempuan Indonesia
KK Warsi Indonesia
Ethiopian Consumer Society
Centre for Environmental Justice/Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka
Alyansa Tigil Mina Pilipinas
Partido ng Manggagawa Philippines
Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA) Philippines
Third World Network
PENGON/Friends of the Earth Palestine
Friends of the Earth Ghana
Oilwatch Ghana
Manikaya Kauci Foundation Indonesia

19 February 2014
Bali, Indonesia

[1] Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, 2014
[2] Indonesia National Agency for Disaster Management, 2014
[3] UNEP Post Conflict Environmental Assessment

Brief report on BCPH participation in the GCF Board Meeting and CSO Consultations, Bali (February 2014)

Green Climate Fund 6th Board Meeting and GCF Civil Society Consultations

Bali- Indonesia, 16 – 21 February 2014
By: Manu Shrivastava, CECOEDECON (India)

Ms. Manu Shrivastava and Mrs. Ritu Tiwari were present in Bali to attend the Green Climate Fund (GCF) 6th Board Meeting (19-21 Feb.) and the preceding civil society consultations (16-18 Feb.) of various groups from the global south and global north. The GCF was established during COP 16 (Cancun), decision 1/CP.16, as an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the UNFCCC and a center piece of its long term financing. Given the urgency and seriousness of climate change, the purpose of the Fund is to make a significant and ambitious contribution to the global efforts towards attaining the goals set by the international community to combat climate change.”

To fulfill its commitment on sustainable development, the Fund will “promote the paradigm shift towards low-emission and climate-resilient development pathways by providing support to developing countries to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change, taking into account the needs of those developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.”

This 6th Board Meeting of the Green Climate Fund was crucial in many aspects because it was meant to facilitate negotiations on some critical issues such as finalize basic framework and initial modalities of the Fund’s operations, administration, etc. that will have repercussions on the developing world that is already facing the brunt of climate change. The Board proceedings included discussions on initial modalities for the operation of the proposed windows of adaptation, mitigation, and the Private Sector Facility (PSF); result areas and indicators for adaptation activities; negotiations on country ownership; initial results management framework; initial allocation of fund’s resources; independent integrity unit and a redress mechanism; initial approval process for proposals; environmental and social safeguards; frameworks for accrediting national, regional and international implementing entities, intermediaries, risk management, investment, terms and conditions for grants and concessional loans; and discussing options for a Fund-wide gender-sensitive approach.

The main role of CECOEDECON delegation was to actively participate in the preceding CSO Consultations and contribute in building a stronger position and strategy for the CSOs, more so because they have largely been ignored and their role diminished by the Fund and its Board. It must be noted here that only one active observer each from the global south and global north CSOs is allowed to participate in the actual Board proceedings, where a space for intervention is not guaranteed and largely lies at the mercy of the Chairs of the session.

The first day of CSO Consultations started on 16th February with South-South CSO Caucus. This meeting was planned as a coordination meeting to discuss joint position and strategy for CSOs of the global south. Common and individual agenda were explored, general understanding of the group on various issues surrounding the GCF was analyzed, strategy and avenues of engagement in the upcoming days were scrutinized including reviewing different modalities of GCF and planning a unified voice on the Fund’s mechanisms and operations. About 20 participants attended the meeting including groups from Indonesia (AKSI), Philippines (Jubilee South), Korea (Transparency International), India (CECOEDECON).

A joint South-North CSO Strategy Meeting marked the second day of CSO consultations and witnessed around 30 participants representing CSOs from global north and south. Rigorous discussions that featured in all sessions wheeled around initial GCF modalities, reviewing goals and agenda, expectations from GCF, and other sporadic discussions for common understanding and clarity of the larger group. Late afternoon sessions discussed, in detail, every document released by GCF Secretariat around major themes to raise talking points for Active Observers to speak during the Board Meeting. Discussion brought out important features, red lines, concerns, suggestions, and avenues of engagement.

Ms. Manu Shrivastava was part of two working groups that were formed on the second day to review these heavily debated sessions and churn out and consolidate major take away points with references from the text for use by the active observers during informal meeting with the Board the following day. She also contributed in a thorough review of the document on Country Ownership to aid a discussion on it and bring out key issues of concern for the group. Later, the delegation from CECOEDECON attended the informal meeting with the Board, followed the interventions given by various country delegates, and gave talking points and suggestions, along with other CSO representatives, to the two active observers – Meena Raman and Brandon Wu.

The major issues voiced by participants during the 2-day consultation were corporate capture of GCF; no clear guidelines to clean energy projects under Private Sector Facility; transparency and accountability (accreditation and safeguards, standards and rules for decision-making, compliance with rules and monitoring, composition of bodies, in situations of corruptions and fraud); limited and diminished space for CSOs participation; a serious need to increase awareness, participation and capacity building of CSOs in the global south, particularly South-Asian region and put up a much stronger CSO front. A few cross cutting concerns that emerged were – safeguards, role of the secretariat, gender approach, private sector exclusion and positive vision for PSF, country-ownership (specifically role of the National Designated Authority) and going beyond governments, etc.

The issues red flagged by the civil society and forwarded to the Board included:
  • Lack of commitment and provision for meaningful and effective involvement of civil society in GCF meetings and activities including absence of assistance for logistical requirements.
  • No respect for civil society processes of selecting its designated representatives to GCF committees and bodies such as the Private Sector Advisory Group, transparently.
  •  Ambiguity on the core principle of the Fund by shifting focus on loans as a financing instrument that dwarfs the obligatory aspect financing by developed nations.
  • Lack of commitment and delivery of funds in the near future. The pledge of “$100 billion dollars annually by the year 2020” remains ambiguous and uncertain after three years.
  •  Disappointing alteration in the language from commitment to mobilization of funds.
  • Dilution of the principle of country ownership (in favor of a more powerful Secretariat), especially on issues of Access, Eligibility, Approval Process, etc.
  • Existing bias among some Board members from developed countries, for structuring the Private Sector Facility (PSF) of the GCF. Private sector financing is the preferred solution to climate change problems as reflected in the papers prepared for Board approval.
  • Speculation of use of public funds by the PSF to finance private sector involvement in climate programs based on the rational that public funds are limited and therefore it is best used for encouraging the private sector to invest in climate programs.
  • Lack of stringent provisions for Socioeconomic, Gender and Environmental Safeguards, for Transparency and Accountability, for Multi-stakeholder Involvement contained in the papers for approval. 

At the end of the meet, strong demands were collected and complied and a “Southern CSO Statement on the Green Climate Fund” was drafted and released by the CSOs calling for greater accountability measures in the GCF, respect for human rights over profit making entities, country ownership with more inclusive peoples’ participations, and ensuring responsibility and financial commitments from the developed nations thorough means conducive to the poor.

Beyond Copenhagen Position Paper for the Green Climate Fund 6th Board Meeting in Bali (February 2014)

Green Climate Fund
Bali, Indonesia (February 2014)

Policy review, critique and recommendations
By: Manu Shrivastava, CECOEDECON (India)

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was established during COP 16 (Cancun), decision 1/CP.16, as an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the UNFCCC and a center piece of its long term financing. The Transitional Committee that designed the Fund, comprised of 40 members (15 members from developed country Parties and 25 members from developing country Parties), met four times through 2011 and, in accordance with its terms of reference (Annex III of decision 1/CP.16), submitted in COP 17 (Durban) the report for its consideration and approval. The Fund was eventually launched at COP17 (Durban) along with governing instrument for the GCF. The Fund is governed by a 24-member Board (with equal representation from the developing and the developed world) and functions under the guidance COP and accountable to it as well.

The mandate of the Fund clearly states that “given the urgency and seriousness of climate change, the purpose of the Fund is to make a significant and ambitious contribution to the global efforts towards attaining the goals set by the international community to combat climate change.” To fulfill its commitment on sustainable development, the Fund will “promote the paradigm shift towards low-emission and climate-resilient development pathways by providing support to developing countries to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change, taking into account the needs of those developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.”

The GCF will support projects, programmes, policies and other activities in developing country Parties. Other salient features mentioned in the mandate include:

  • Transparency and accountability in operations, guided by efficiency and effectiveness
  • Key role in channeling new, additional, adequate and predictable financial resources to developing countries
  • Catalyze climate finance, both public and private, and at the international and national levels
  • Country-driven approach and promote and strengthen engagement at the country level through effective involvement of relevant institutions and stakeholders
  • Scalable and flexible and a continuously learning institution guided by processes for monitoring and evaluation
  • Maximize the impact of its funding for adaptation and mitigation, and seek a balance between the two, while promoting environmental, social, economic and development co-benefits and taking a gender-sensitive approach
  • Provide simplified and improved access to funding, including direct access, basing its activities on a country-driven approach and will encourage the involvement of relevant stakeholders, including vulnerable groups and addressing gender aspects.

The features and mandates engraved in the foundation of the Fund haven fallen short in practice and implementation since its inception and continue to do so. There are many concerns surrounding the existence, operation, commitments, and transparency of the GCF and seriousness of the developed nations to allocate resources to it. The proceedings and progress have failed to deliver on promises ever since. This has become a recurrent phenomenon with the latest showdown seen during the negotiations at COP 19 that underscored the lack of progress made by the fund.

The Green Climate Fund ‘will’ not only help materialize the goals of the UNFCCC but was also projected to mobilize USD 100 Billion by 2020 to help nations combat climate change and adopt sustainable technologies, esp. in the developing world, with donations from rich countries. A seed amount of USD 10 Billion per year was also pledged in fast-track finance for three years starting in 2011. However, none of these commitments have seen daylight and uncertainty prevails over where this money will come from.

The co-chair of the Fund, Jose Maria Sarte Salceda, had announced earlier the urgency to act on climate change in the backdrop of the havoc caused by typhoon in the Philippines and noted that the resources mobilization was proceeding as desired. But once again, it seems the steam has fizzed out. With a miniscule amount given so far (USD 40 Million from South Korea), that as spent on start up and setting up the HQ in Songdo by the interim trustee, the World Bank, the future is bleak and more vows are still to be seen when the Fund will start collecting in 2014.

It will be useful to mention here that a report by the ODI mentioned that “new climate money in 2013 has dropped by more than two-thirds since 2012.” COP 19 held in Warsaw last year, which was expected to take things forward showed decelerating progress as the developed nations refused to commit an interim target of raising $70bn by 2016. Even more surprisingly and to our dismay, the lack of commitment did not raise a red alert, in fact, the documents released after the COP had no clarity on if and when and how this money will come in. The wealthier countries were non-committal in light of the global recession and very insistent on private sector contributions.

The top leadership of the GCF and UNFCCC has also shown their increasing reliance on private capital. Christiana Figueres, quoting the extent and scale of the problem that “$1trillion is likely to be needed to help poorer nations invest in low carbon energy systems and develop climate resilient infrastructure”, managed to put across that private cash and alternative sources could be the driving agent in the process (in case you missed, aside from the public sources). With the initial confusion of allowing private sector or not now evidently clear, questions still lurk around the role and extent of private sector investments. There are increasing speculations that the financing institutions will be given the lead among private sector to invest in the Fund through the Private Sector Facility (PSF), but again the structure and modalities remain unclear.

Role of private sector was initiated by establishing PSF after rigorous lobbying of developed nations in the Board, reason given that this will attract market forces sub texted under the "use of a diverse range of financial instruments". It should not come as surprise that once market capital forces are allowed, the big financial investment fish will be the first to knock. The bigger problem that this trend forecasts is less money being spent on adaptation financing.

The Governing Instrument does mention laying emphasis on encouraging domestic private sector and many developing nations and the civil society community have been advocating that PSF should focus on finance for micro-small and medium sized enterprises in poorer nations rather than big multi-national entities.

Needless to say, a climate treaty in 2015 will not be possible without clarity on the climate finance front, to be blunt, no country will move forward on the deal if they don’t know who will pay to go clean! If it makes the picture any brighter, the recently released GCF Financial Report confirmed that Germany has pledged USD 23 Million to the Fund, after Korea but no other check has been signed yet.

It has increasingly come to notice that the GCF is moving beyond its mandate and purpose of being a “fund” to control money from developed countries into building climate resilience in developing nations, and not expect profits from these activities. The Fund was conceived for the richer nations to fulfill their obligations for being causative agents to the warming world, and help the poorer countries abate and combat the havoc being caused. The Fund must earmark this underlying principle and proceed using the same manual. There may be private sector investment, but replenishments must come from the developed world. Along the same lines, the increasing role and scope of intermediaries is a growing concern esp. now that more private financial entities are being included that will drive a more profit-oriented approach.

When the World Bank announced a few months back that it will not finance dirty energy projects anymore, the reflex was to see how that translates to activities of the GCF, especially because the World Bank will be a trustee for a considerable time and more crucially when the modalities and mechanisms of the Fund are being laid out. Unfortunately, there is no mention of moving away from fossil fuel or investing more in renewable energy. A major hurdle seems that the Board has members unwilling to do so.

The Governing Instrument of the Fund managed to carve “stakeholder involvement in the design, development and implementation” into the constitution. But the readiness and willingness to include a very important stakeholder, the civil society, has been nothing more than lip service. From only two active observers to ‘observe’ the proceedings’ to be allowed to speak only once for an agenda item (that too at the whim of the Chair); to not webcasting the proceedings for general viewing (which eliminates timely and effective interventions from smaller groups around the world) and also not releasing videos later as promised; to very limited opportunities for stakeholders to interact with the Secretariat; the list is endless. 

Not to mention, roles of ‘externals’ is unclear on involvement in the process of approval. The same has been seen for other stakeholders such as private sector actors, women, indigenous people, and vulnerable groups. There is no clarity on how and if at all the communities where projects will be conceived and implemented be consulted or included in the decision making process. A major concern cropped when the cso representative to the Private Sector Advisory Group was appointed without consulting the civil society observers and after completely disregarding the nomination process that the observers carried out with due diligence.

The fund has been described as “dynamic and innovative driver to combat climate change”. However, many questions float around the operating framework, for e.g., many of the rules according to which the GCF will operate remain to be discussed. It is clear there will be ‘thematic funding windows’ for adaptation and mitigation but allocation is fuzzy. The reports and documents released so far have failed to provide guidelines on how the Fund money will be allocated, esp. between mitigation and adaptation activities, a technical and political challenge. The ratio is skewed. Despite the suggestive target of 50-50 allocation in the medium term, it translates to a “target range of 30-50 per cent for both adaptation and mitigation”. A 20 percent share going to PSF also raises eyebrows because this money will more likely than not be spent on mitigation, unless strongly lobbied against.

There has been no formal decision on the social and environmental safeguards proposed for projects and how that will be monitored and the decision seems unlikely till the summer meeting. More vagueness prevails around level of country ownership, commitments issues, disproportionate stakeholder representation and involvement, transparency of the Board itself, caveats of having another international climate institution because the Fund will divert and fragment tax payers money already being spent on building climate resilience and mitigation.

It must be noted that Cancun Agreement underlined that GCF allocation should be "new" and "additional" to the existing funds in implementation or in pipeline. Clarity on "additionality of funds" is a pre-requisite to prevent paperwork mess and hampering additional emission reduction evaluation through CDM projects, creating confusion, counter productivity, tampering, etc.

Climate change and its impacts have the capacity to roll back development efforts and success stories achieved so far. The implications are far worse in terms of economic development seen so far. World Bank President remarked that the world cannot end poverty without tackling climate in the most serious manner. There is a need to build smarter and cleaner cities and make agriculture more resilient and productive to feed the 9 billion people by 2050, he added. What is important to remember and remind ourselves every time a dollar is spent is that we don’t repeat the same mistakes that were committed in the past.

When the GCF was inaugurated by the likes of heads of IMF, WB, UNFCCC, no one anticipated that it will see a call out for charity. A lot can still be done to amend shortcomings and make the Fund a promising and alleviating mechanism.

  • Current state of affairs demands massive investments in developing nations, not only in developing adaptation capabilities but also on reducing emissions by low emission technologies, clean energy, sustainable transport, etc. But the Fund must have innovative mechanisms to change at the very basic level on how energy is being produced, how mitigation measures are being implemented, what adaptation strategies are being promoted. There is a need to bring that “paradigm shift” in the private sector.

  • To deliver its promise on a clear and transparent strategy for potential donors to pledge up substantial amount of money, more needs to be done to get even close to the committed amount of USD 100B by 2020 where countries have failed to cough out one-tenth of it per year.

  • It has probably been realized that public finance will not be sufficient to bridge the gap and reach the pledged amount. Thus a regulated private sector intervention is required.

  • It is strongly recommended that the Fund focuses on grants and concessional loans as means of disbursement rather than other financial mechanisms.

  • More incentives and policy environment must be given to private sector to make more climate-friendly investments by creating regulatory and institutional structures.

  • The initial results management framework must include more parameters (besides tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions reduced) to measure in order to drive investment away from fossil fuels and more importantly from the next best alternatives like natural gas, geothermal, etc. (which have lesser emissions than traditional sources but are still harmful).

  • Another way to address this could be to set more stringent standards in the initial phase of project approval that would decide viability of a project based on the harm it causes. Ofcourse, this will also call for adopting stricter social and environmental safeguards.

  • Standards and Safeguards policies incorporated in the project approval and implementation must be made mandatory. Role of intermediaries must be clearly defined in how finance is treated.

  • The role of civil society and other relevant stakeholders must be clearly marked with significant space in the decision making and implementing stages. The process of appointing representatives and others related to stakeholder participation must be more transparent, accountable, consultative and democratic. GCF proceedings must be opened to public for information and participation and equal representation from countries must be ensured to prevent biased decisions.

  • The GCF financing process must have clearly defined stakeholder inputs and involvement, especially the communities where the project will be located, making it more people centric and participatory.

  • The role of stakeholders has been tampered with as mentioned in the GI which also mentioned there will be “participatory monitoring” with space for inputs into discussions on framework, guiding principles, etc. But the current state of affairs suggests this may just be confined to cost-benefit analyses, GHG calculations, ticking boxes on “no objection procedure” and so on.

  • The fragmentation of the Fund to the PSF must have a ceiling to control excessive inflow from this sector. Also, allocation to adaptation projects must be increased.

  • The country ownership of GCF activities must be encouraged keeping in mind priorities of vulnerable groups, women, youth, indigenous people and other stakeholders. The Fund must have a core objective of integrating guidelines and criteria for funding of these groups and increase sensitivity.