Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Greens are complaining that lack of US financial support is impacting progress. But a closer look at Green Climate Fund documents in my opinion opens serious questions about how that money was being spent.
How Trump Could Slow Climate Change Projects Around the World
Much of the fallout from President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement has centered on the symbolism of losing the world’s largest economy and second largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions as a leader in the fight against climate change. Now, scientists, advocates and officials around the world are becoming increasingly concerned about the tangible effects it will have on the rest of the globe.
In addition to pulling out of Paris, which will not take effect until 2020, Trump has reneged on $2 billion in unpaid commitments to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which was created in advance of the Paris Agreement to support projects to address climate change in the developing world. Climate finance experts fear it could be a sign of further cuts to other programs that depend on American resources.
“There’s a whole slew of things where the U.S. has become such an important supporter of other countries,” says Rachel Kyte, CEO of United Nations-backed initiative Sustainable Energy for All and former World Bank climate envoy. “Certainly there will be cuts. Exactly where the cuts call will be is something we don’t know.”
For many countries, losing funding means the difference between an aggressive and a limited effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Nearly 190 countries representing more than 90% of global greenhouse gas emissions submitted plans to address climate change in advance of Paris Agreement negotiations. Developing countries by and large offered two commitments, one of which was contingent on financing.
U.S. withdrawal has not led other countries to pull back on their GCF commitments—at least not yet. “We’re on track as long as everybody sticks to the commitments that they made,” says Leonardo Martinez, global director of the sustainable finance center at the World Resources Institute. “We still don’t know what percentage of those commitments is going to be in jeopardy.”
Why am I concerned about how Green Climate Fund money is being spent? Page 12 of a green climate fund progress report (2016) contains a list of countries titled Annex I: List of countries with national designated authorities/focal points. The list includes Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Syria – countries listed in Executive Order 13769 – President Trump’s Travel Ban.