REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst U.S. President Barack Obama gestures during remarks at the White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington December 3, 2014.
To say that money makes the world go ’round is no exaggeration — not even when it comes to fighting climate change. In fact, it’s so important that the United Nations has created a fund just for climate-related cash – and its balance just broke $10 billion.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) established the Green Climate Fund in 2010 as a way to help developing countries curb their carbon emissions without breaking the bank. The fund takes donations from developed nations and distributes them to developing ones to offset the costs of switching to renewable energy sources and adapting to the effects of climate change.
The idea is to help correct an inequality that many developing nations feel is unfair. The vast majority of greenhouse gases currently in the atmosphere were put there by developed countries, whose economies are now stable enough to start cutting their emissions and switching to renewable energy sources.
These same countries are now asking developing nations to start slashing their carbon output —which is steadily increasing, as these countries continue to industrialize and build their economies — before they’ve achieved the same prosperity.
On top of that, these developing nations will be more affected by climate change consequences, like storms, droughts, floods, and famines, all of which could cause increased poverty and civil unrest around the world.
It’s not fair, and everyone knows it, but action must be taken to cut carbon emissions from every country — or the whole world will suffer. The Green Climate Fund is meant to make this easier for developing countries, and give developed ones the opportunity to take responsibility for their part in causing climate change.
So far, nations including the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany have pledged a total of nearly $10.2 billion to the fund. But its goals are more ambitious yet.
The UNFCCC hopes to bet on getting $100 billion per year by 2020. It’s a lofty target, and one that some nations think isn’t possible on the honor system alone. Some want to require developed countries to pledge money to the fund in an internationally binding agreement.
The agreement in question has been in negotiations all week at a UNFCCC climate conference in Lima, Peru. The primary goal at this conference is to draft an emissions reduction agreement, in which all participating countries will submit a plan to reduce their carbon emissions starting in 2020.
Some nations also want the agreement to require developed countries to pledge money to the fund. It’s unclear whether this request will make it into the draft, which is expected to be completed tonight.