Adaptation activity funding left hanging since Cancun – progress needed at Durban

Experts warn the Green Climate Fund is falling short of proposed USD$100 billion annual budget.

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Photo by Tim Cronin/CIFOR

BOGOR, Indonesia (25 November, 2011)_A decision on reliable funding for adaptation projects has been left hanging since the climate talks in Cancún last year. The Green Climate Fund — while struggling to gain support from developed countries — needs to progress at talks in Durban so adaptation efforts can move forward, says CIFOR and CIRAD senior scientist, Bruno Locatelli.

Negotiators at the 2010 climate talks in Cancún agreed to establish the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to help developing nations finance adaptation (adapting to climate change) and mitigation (reducing carbon emissions) activities.

Adaptation works towards limiting the negative effects of climate change on people and ecosystems- including forests. Climate change is already having dramatic effects on forested regions, which is damaging not only from an environmental perspective, but also for societies, with forests playing a key role in reducing the vulnerability of communities to losses from changes in temperatures, rainfall and other impacts.

Last year’s climate summit was a big win for adaptation, says Locatelli: “Not only did negotiators agree on the Cancún Adaptation Framework, with guiding principles for adaptation activities and a working programme, they defined adaptation finance as new and additional to existing aid commitments.

“However, there are still big questions as to how funding for adaptation will be sourced, accessed and disbursed. We hope to see progress on these issues in Durban.”

While developed countries committed to providing USD 30 billion in ‘kick-start’ financing from 2010 to 2012, less than half of this has been delivered so far, says the World Resources Institute.

“Money has yet to flow to meet even the most urgent adaptation needs of the Least Developed Countries,” David Ciplet of Brown University told Reuters last week. Ciplet co-authored a brief that calculates the current adaptation contribution of kick-start donors as only 19 to 25 percent of all climate finance.

The ultimate goal of the GCF is to source USD 100 billion per year by 2020, with a significant portion of this named for adaptation activities. However there is growing concern that developed countries may not meet this target, given the current economic instability. Focus is turning towards the private sector for financial support, said facilitator Tony La Viña in a CIFOR special report earlier this month.

However some countries have begun to propose alternative ways of sourcing GCF funds such as Ecuador’s Daly-Correa eco-tax- a tax on countries with high levels of fuel consumption. Ecuador has also recently proposed a tax on maritime and air transport to a Latin American trade group (ALBA nations) that could help raise GCF funds.

The proportion of the GCF that will go to adaptation also needs to be discussed at Durban, says Locatelli: “Some stakeholders hope for a 50-50 split, but others want the balance to favour adaptation.”

Further indecision on adequate and predictable funding for adaptation may mean that developing countries, most vulnerable to climate change, will struggle with changing climate conditions.

“All of the talk about adaptation in Cancún will mean little unless reliable funding sources are established in Durban,” said Locatelli.

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