Canada dropped C$300 million on the table this week at a pledging conference for the Green Climate Fund, which helps poorer countries reduce carbon pollution and adapt to the consequences of climate change.
With the Lima climate talks less than two weeks away, that’s a promising and positive signal from Canada.
Financial support for climate action in poorer countries—known as climate financing—is going to be a crucial element of any international climate agreement. That’s because the world’s poorest people are most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change, and they need support to prepare for the impacts of a more volatile climate and to finance their own clean energy transitions.
Year after year, countries at the UN negotiating table have recognized the importance of effective climate financing. They have worked together to design a new fund built on best practices, specifically tailored for climate change.
This week, countries met in Berlin with the aim of gathering USD$10 billion in commitments to the Green Climate Fund. The United States announced a USD$3 billion pledge in advance of the meeting, increasing the pressure on Canada. In the end, 21 countries pitched in a total of USD$9.3 billion.
On a per capita basis, Canada’s pledge placed us in 14th place of the top 15, behind the United States (in 12th) and ahead of Italy.
Canada’s contribution (USD $265 million) amounts to just under three percent of the total pledged to date. That’s a step back from Canada’s 2010 to 2012 climate financing contributions, which saw then-Environment Minister Jim Prentice commit that Canada would provide its historical “fair share” of about four percent of the international effort.
But Canada met that previous commitment with a strong reliance on loans rather than grants—loans made up nearly three-quarters of Canada’s contribution—and dedicated less than one-fifth of its pledge to adaptation.
This time around, the role of grants in Canada’s offer is not yet clear. But the government’s statement makes no mention of loans, and notes that “Green Climate Fund is aiming to invest 50 percent of its resources to support adaptation, with half of the adaptation funding going to the poorest and most vulnerable countries.” A higher share of grants, and more adaptation support, would strengthen Canada’s contribution.
At the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks, developed countries promised they would mobilize USD$100 billion a year in climate financing for by 2020. The pledges we’ve seen to date still leave a huge gap to close to reach that goal. But for Canada, and the rest of the world, this week’s commitments are a step in the right direction.