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At the Paris UN Climate Conference (COP21) there’s been a lot of talk about the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), the pledges countries have made to cut their carbon emissions. Equally important is the need to nail down financial support for developing nations to both transition to clean, renewable energy while lifting their citizens out of poverty, and also assist them with the loss and damage that they are already facing from climate change. But with billions and billions of dollars needed, who will be paying the bill?
Let us introduce you to another acronym, one that’s had a lower profile but that is critical to a positive outcome in Paris: the Green Climate Fund, or GCF. The GCF represents commitments by developed nations to provide developing countries a total of $100 billion a year in support by 2020 to fund climate change mitigation and adaptation projects. It’s recognition that climate justice is a very real and very pressing concern.
$100 billion sounds like a lot of money (because it is!), but just consider this new report that shows G20 countries spend $452 billion in annual public support for fossil fuels, versus only $121 billion each year in renewable energy subsidies on a global level. Developed countries claim their budgets are tight, but maybe they ought to just consider where they are spending their money, and what kind of future that investment will buy. Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States account for around $80 billion per year in public support for fossil fuels— while their pledges to the Green Climate Fund total only $2 billion per year.
Low-lying island nations like Kiribati (which has received an offer to evacuate over 100,000 residents to Fiji) are counting down the loss of their entire landmass to rising sea levels. Rural farmers from Africa to South America are watching crops whither in record droughts, drown in unprecedented rain, and fail due to invasive pests. And these are just a few of the myriad of examples of how climate change is already taking way too much of a toll on developing nations.
Leading up to the COP21, President Obama pledged $3 billion to the GCF, but Congress has vowed to block the spending. They threaten to undermine US leadership at a critical moment.
The global climate movement speaks to the urgency of taking immediate and long-term action on climate change, and as we’ve seen in Paris, world leaders are listening. But we need to make sure that developing countries have the resources they need to adapt to climate change and transition to a low-carbon future.
Which is why we’re asking you to get involved by putting some serious pressure on our leaders to make sure they don’t leave COP21 without paying the bill.
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