The new Climate Fund: will Cancun deliver?

The call for the creation of a new global Climate Fund in the Copenhagen Accord (termed the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund in the document) at COP15 last year has led to a year of energized talks regarding global climate finance, its sources, and the governance of its disbursement under the UNFCCC.  During my experience at COP16, I have been closely following the development of this new fund and have been surprised at how polemic the issue seems to be, despite the championing of finance as one of the few issues in Cancun that would experience progress and forward movement.  Two successive side-events on Tuesday aptly illustrated this observation.

The UNDP and the World Bank Group formally launched their new climate finance portal at an event hosted by the UNFCCC secretariat.  The climate finance options website was developed by these two groups for the purpose of simplifying the process of acquiring climate funding, addressing concerns that had surfaced regarding the ease of accessing funding.  The website synthesizes application requirements and eligibility criteria for over 50 different climate funds as well as provides case studies and best practices information in an effort to promote south-south collaboration.  The event was underscored by the implicit assumption of the integral role which the World Bank will play in the future mobilization of climate financing.

Following this event, Friends of the Earth International hosted a discussion investigating the parameters leading to the development of a just and equitable deal on climate finance.  The conversation was largely dominated by representatives of developing countries and an extremely strong sentiment expressing the absolute absence of the World Bank from a future Climate Fund architecture was repeatedly voiced.

Developing countries feel that a lack of representation within the governance structure of the World Bank places them at a disadvantage when it comes to the selection of project types and recipient countries.  Donor countries are hesitant to relinquish a facility they have utilized for years, particularly one that allows them a high degree of control over the destination of their funding.  Beyond this division, negotiations this week have seen countries split on the amount of money that should be infused into the fund and what types of mitigation strategies should be included as eligible for financing.

The coming week will most likely lead to more interesting developments regarding the creation of the new Climate Fund.  Indeed, this is the moment to witness whether or not agreement can be reached on an instrument that could usher in a new era in climate finance.