How The Green Climate Fund Fights Climate Change

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Insight Summary

  • In response to the growing challenges of climate change, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) enacted the Paris Agreement in 2016, where 196 signed countries have pledged to keep average global temperatures below 2 °C (3.6 °F) above pre-industrial levels.
  • The Green Climate Fund (GCF) – a critical element of the historic Paris Agreement – has become the world’s largest climate fund, mandated to support developing countries raise and realize their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) ambitions towards low-emissions, climate-resilient pathways.
  • Climate change offers businesses an unprecedented chance to capitalize on new growth and investment opportunities that can protect the planet as well. GCF employs part of its funds to help mobilize financial flows from the private sector to compelling and profitable climate-smart investment opportunities. 
  • As of 2019, contributors have pledged more than USD 9.8 billion for the GCF-1 programming period.

Green Climate Fund Overview

Limiting global warming is still possible and will be determined by the investment decisions we make over the next decade. 

In response to the growing challenges of climate change, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) enacted the Paris Agreement in 2016 where 196 signed countries have pledged to keep average global temperatures below 2 °C (3.6 °F) above pre-industrial levels.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) – a critical element of the historic Paris Agreement – has become the world’s largest climate fund, mandated to support developing countries raise and realize their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) ambitions towards low-emissions, climate-resilient pathways.

GCF’s transformative approach

The Green Climate Fund actively invests across four transitions – built environment; energy & industry; human security, livelihoods and wellbeing; and land-use, forests and ecosystems – and employs a four-pronged approach:  

  1. Transformational planning and programming: by promoting integrated strategies, planning and policymaking to maximise the co-benefits between mitigation, adaptation and sustainable development.
  2. Catalysing climate innovation: by investing in new technologies, business models, and practices to establish a proof of concept.
  3. De-risking investment to mobilize finance at scale: by using scarce public resources to improve the risk-reward profile of low emission climate resilient investment and crowd-in private finance, notably for adaptation, nature-based solutions, least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS).
  4. Mainstreaming climate risks and opportunities into investment decision-making to align finance with sustainable development: by promoting methodologies, standards and practices that foster new norms and values.

Climate change offers businesses an unprecedented chance to capitalize on new growth and investment opportunities that can protect the planet as well. GCF employs part of its funds to help mobilize financial flows from the private sector to compelling and profitable climate-smart investment opportunities. 

Key Features

Country driven

A core GCF principle is to follow a country-driven approach, which means that developing countries lead GCF programming and implementation. Country ownership of GCF financing decisions enables developing countries to turn NDC ambitions into climate action. GCF’s country-driven approach is underpinned by capacity-building support through its Readiness Programme that is available to all developing countries.  

An open, partnership organization

GCF operates through a network of over 200 Accredited Entities and delivery partners who work directly with developing countries for project design and implementation. Its partners include international and national commercial banks, multilateral, regional and national development finance institutions, equity funds institutions, United Nations agencies, and civil society organizations. This open partnership enables the Fund to foster unprecedented coalitions between private investors, development agencies and civil society organizations to achieve transformative change and support harmonization of standards and practices. 

A range of financing instruments

GCF can structure its financial support through a flexible combination of grant, concessional debt, guarantees or equity instruments to leverage blended finance and crowd-in private investment for climate action in developing countries. This flexibility enables the Fund to pilot new financial structures to support green market creation.

Balanced allocation

GCF is mandated to invest 50% of its resources to mitigation and 50% to adaptation in grant equivalent. At least half of its adaptation resources must be invested in the most climate vulnerable countries (SIDS, LDCs, and African States). The GCF programming strategy recognizes the need to scale up both mitigation and adaptation efforts. GCF aims to leverage synergies and minimize potential trade-offs between adaptation and mitigation.

Risk-taking, patient capital

GCF adds value to its partners by enabling them to raise the ambition of their climate action. By leveraging the risk management capacity of its partners and investment, risk and results management frameworks, GCF can accept higher risks to support early-stage project development as well as policy, institutional, technological and financial innovation to catalyse climate finance. This capacity to take risk is backed up by a robust second level due diligence system.

Timeline

GCF was established under the Cancún Agreements in 2010 as a dedicated financing vehicle for developing countries within the global climate architecture, serving the Financial Mechanism of the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement. Since the approval of the first project funding in 2015, GCF has made rapid strides in building a portfolio of more than 100 projects.

  • 2009
    The general concept for GCF is first proposed at the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC in Copenhagen, Denmark (COP 15).
  • 2010
    The COP in Cancun, Mexico (COP 16), decides to establish GCF
  • 2011
    GCF’s Governing Instrument is adopted in Durban, South Africa (COP 17), where it is given the mandate to make “an ambitious contribution to the global efforts towards attaining the goals set by the international community to combat climate change.”
  • 2012
    GCF’s governing Board holds its first meetings. The Board is equally balanced with members from both developed and developing countries.
  • 2013
    GCF’s first Executive Director Héla Cheikhrouhou is appointed. The Fund establishes its permanent headquarters in Songdo, Republic of Korea, in December 2013.
  • 2014
    Following the establishment of its operational principles and guidelines, GCF commences its initial resource mobilization, raising over USD 10 billion equivalent by the end of the year. Initial mobilization lasts until 2018, while the Fund remains open for further contributions during this time from both public and private sources.
  • 2015
    The first investment decisions are taken, including both mitigation and adaptation projects, meeting the target set by the UNFCCC in advance of the Paris COP. 195 countries agree to the historic Paris Agreement, which GCF now serves as a financial mechanism of the Convention.
  • 2016
    Marks GCF’s first full year of operations, with the Fund developing a project portfolio of 35 projects, worth over USD 1.5 billion by the end of the year, to be implemented by its 48 Accredited Entities.
  • 2017
    The Fund made great strides in accelerating climate action on the ground, with 19 projects under implementation by the end of the year, totalling USD 633 million in GCF resources.
  • 2018
    With over USD 5 billion in resources committed to climate change projects, GCF launches its first ever replenishment.
  • 2019
    Contributors have pledged more than USD 9.8 billion for the GCF-1 programming period.

Sources: 

https://www.greenclimate.fund/about

https://www.greenclimate.fund/about/timeline

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