“Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for the rest of his life.” In relation to climate financing, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and Developed Country Parties, do both, and neither particularly well. The recent IPCC 1.5 report has taken away all room for delay: the GCF cannot waste its valuable funding on unaccountable, inefficient disbursements. We need a financial architecture that will let us move much faster than we are.
This COP has highlighted Developing Country Parties’ concerns that they won’t have the capital to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement. More specifically, that they won’t have the funds to help pay for losses and damage expected from climate change and that they cannot afford to build the necessary infrastructure, such as renewable energy sources and other low-carbon technologies, that the IPCC 1.5 report warns are necessary.
The GCF relies on Developed Country Parties’ pledges to provide that funding. However, these Parties are hesitant to invest and bear the risk for the costs of climate change. Additionally, they are hesitant to grant funding to countries that are technically “developing,” yet have emerged as economic powerhouses.
This hesitation is exacerbated by irresponsible use of funds by the GCF. Experts argue that the use of climate grants, which make up 47% of the GCF’s activities to date, rather than direct investment, are a misallocation of public funds. They can actually harm markets by pushing out small-scale private actors, often going to those who could afford it anyway. Instead, GCF capital should be blended with government money in order to attract private investors and encourage market growth.
Private investors are hesitant to invest in the face of unfamiliar risk. This includes vulnerabilities to extreme weather, droughts, and rising sea levels for coastal economies, but also inaction by governments that will exacerbate these effects. However, private investors are often moving into these markets anyway, which are slowly becoming more viable as investment options. To encourage this, public funds from the GCF and governments should be used to leverage investment from private actors. Instead of being given freely, by themselves, in the form of grant disbursements, proponents argue that they should only be committed in cases where they can encourage private investment at 10x or higher.
Many Developing Countries, LDCs, and SIDS require foreign aid to kick-start these markets. Private investment must be encouraged as part of that funding. There is simply not enough public funding to tackle the problem alone.