SONGDO, South Korea: The United Nation’s (UN’s) new Green Climate Fund (GCF) opened its headquarters in South Korea on Wednesday, facing the key challenge of funding its mission to support low carbon projects around the world.
The GCF was essentially created as a mechanism for transferring funds from developed to developing nations to help them counter the effects of climate change.
But besides start-up capital, its coffers are currently pretty bare and the importance of filling them as soon as possible was underlined at Wednesday’s ceremony in Songdo, around 40 kilometers west of the South Korean capital Seoul.
“The imperative is now to bring the funding to operation as soon as possible,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said in a video address to the event, which was attended by World Bank chief Jim Yong Kim.
International Monetary Fund (IMF) head Christine Lagarde missed the ceremony when fog prevented her plane from landing.
The fund’s first executive director, Hela Cheikhrouhou, acknowledged the “monumental task” that lay ahead.
“Now is the time to act to provide . . . leadership and the funding to keep climate change at bay,” she said in a speech.
In 2009, developed countries committed to raising $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poorer countries with global warming, but current funding levels are way below that.
“I hope the funds will soon be able to deliver capital to reduce emissions . . . empower local farmers, and support governments and businesses to adopt low emissions and climate-resilient options,” Ban said.
The question of who should bear the greatest financial burden of the fight against climate change has long been a source of friction.
Major developing nations including China and India, whose growth is largely powered by fossil fuel combustion, insist that the onus lies with wealthier nations with a far longer emissions history.
Developed nations however insist emerging economies must do their fair share.
The 2013 UN Climate Change Conference held in Warsaw last month saw 195 nations, after fraught debate for days, agree on a document urging developed countries to deliver “increasing levels” of finance for climate aid to poor and vulnerable countries up to 2020.
The document also called for a “very significant scale” of initial funding for the GCF.