President Trump Has Rendered The Green Climate Fund Nearly Useless

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) has continued to falter since President Donald Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal of the Paris Agreement — and taking with it billions in pledged dollars.

The United Nations launched the GCF in 2010 to promote environmentally friendly initiatives in developing countries. Based in Songdo, South Korea, the GCF employs 250 people and has committed nearly $4 billion into international projects that aim to help third-world countries mitigate the effects of climate change. Former President Barack Obama was a major supporter of the GCF and had pledged the U.S. would donate $3 billion over the course of several years. His administration had given $1 billion before the end of his second term.

The GCF, however, never attracted the same level of support from the succeeding administration.

Trump fulfilled a major campaign promise when he withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Agreement in 2017 and has not given another dollar since. Trump’s moves mean the GCF is $2 billion short of what it expected its slush fund to be.

“Now with the United States pulling from this Paris agreement, I’m concerned now how to mobilize the necessary financial support for many developing countries who do not have the capacity to address this climate change issues,” former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon stated to CNBC on Tuesday. “They do not have any responsibilities historically speaking. Therefore it is absolute necessary that the international community uses its political will to work on this matter.” (RELATED: Green Climate Fund Is In Complete Free Fall)

Unfortunately for the GCF, it has lost money elsewhere.

Instead of doling out cash, the United Kingdom provided promissory notes — pledges to pay when money is needed — to the group. This arrangement proved devastating after anxiety over Brexit greatly reduced the value of the Euro and the British pound. The devaluation of both currencies has resulted in the GCF losing another $1 billion.

The lack of cash has made green-lighting new, expensive projects nearly impossible.

Howard Bamsey abruptly resigned his position as GCF’s executive director following a June 4 meeting where no new projects were approved. Bamsey, an Australian diplomat, left after less than two years on the job.

“I have been considering the best timing for my departures from the secretariat,” he explained in a letter. “Pressing personal issues meant I would simply not be able to stay until the end of next year which is when replenishment is likely to conclude.”

The collapse of negotiations will ultimately mean 11 different projects, costing nearly $1 billion, will simply have to wait. Projects such as water management in Guatemala, solar panels in Tonga and climate initiatives in 17 countries will have to wait at least three months before moving forward.

Beyond a lack of cash, a lack of experience from board members has also been cited as a major contributor to the GCF’s failure.

“Many of these people did not know how to navigate the minefield and the dynamics of the board, so there were a lot of little things that triggered people — and then those things spiraled into an hour long argument that could’ve been very easily avoided,” Brandon Wu, a director of policy and campaigns at Action Aid USA, said in a statement to Devex, a global development publication.

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