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Massachusetts UN Least Developed Countries Fund

by Benito Müller

On 27 March 2017, State Senator Michael Barrett filed “An Act enabling taxpayer donations to the Least Developed Countries Fund, an initiative of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change” in the Massachusetts Senate.

Think Local, Act Global! State and City Climate Leadership Includes Global Finance

by Barbara Kates-Garnick, Peter Fox-Penner, and Benito Müller

By proposing to slash Federal funding to combat climate change, President Trump has declared war on our ability to deal with a very real, existential global problem that cannot be solved by building walls.  As Washington abrogates its leadership both at home and abroad, states and cities must step up on both.  Globally, the poorest and most vulnerable allies must be supported to enable them to combat climate change, while reducing poverty, and the citizens of Massachusetts have an opportunity to step up to the plate.

 

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst! What next with American climate finance?

by Benito Müller

The recent elections have had a sobering effect on expectations regarding US federal actions on climate change, although true to form, President-elect Trump seems to be changing positions on the hoof as he trots along.

 

Justice is still critical in the post-Paris world of “nationally determined” climate action 

by Anju Sharma

Can we really solve the climate change problem without some notion of fair burden sharing? Talking about equity, it is alleged, may derail negotiations. But not talking about it can kill the possibility that the outcome of the negotiations will ever be implemented in good faith, with maximum possible ambition, or that countries will continue to engage.

Why an effective Ambition Mechanism is vital to deliver the Paris Agreement

by Clare Shakya and Benito Müller 

See also The Paris Ambition Mechanism: Review and Communication Cycles – Options Note 

 

Whatever happened to the Paris Predictability Problem?  Part II. Unconventional Options for Enhancing the Predictability of Multilateral Climate Finance

by Benito Müller with Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu

After nearly two decades of multilateral climate finance, it is clear that we have reached the limit of what we can get in predictably from conventional national budgetary contributions. While they will continue to provide the bulk of public sector climate finance for the foreseeable future, if we want to enhance predictability we will need to look at innovative unconventional alternatives, such as shares of proceeds from (sub-) national trading schemes and crowdfunding from airline passengers, as discussed in this blog.

 

‘Maillot Jaune’ for the Dynamic Contribution Cycle

by Benito Müller

The Paris Agreement reflects all the key elements of the Dynamic Contribution Cycle except one – harmonised periodic revisions to ‘ratchet up’ country contributions, which are essential to increase ambition. Based on a new OCP/ecbi Discussion Note, this blog argues that such a ratcheting mechanism could be easily ‘retrofitted’.

Whatever happened to the Paris Predictability Problem?  Part I. The Paris Cycle-wreck: beyond (partial) salvage?

by Benito Müller

This blog looks at the fate of the idea of a Paris Replenishment Cycle put forward in Paris by the Group of Least Developed Countries as a measure of resolving the Paris Predictability Problem, and at whether (certain elements of) if could be taken forward in the upcoming negotiations.

Finance in Paris: Non à la Nouvelle Haute Couture Impériale!

by Benito Müller

 This blog takes stock of the finance outcomes of the international negotiations at the recent Paris UN climate conference (COP21), focusing on three key finance issues, namely institutional arrangements, public sector finance, and what has become known as ‘collective quantified goals’, and comparing them with the outcomes of the Cancun Agreements.

By contrast to some of the things that happened in the side-lines of the COP, the picture painted by the stock take is unfortunately far from impressive. The blog concludes that “we must be humble and abandon the emperor’s new clothes (or in this case ‘haute couture’) by admitting that the Paris finance outcome was weak, and by stopping to pretend that the ‘Copenhagen narrative’ in terms of targets for mobilised overall financial flows is helpful for the process. Instead we should try and look for ways to genuinely enhance the predictability of public sector contributions to international climate finance.”

 

In Paris it became ‘chic’ for sub-nationals to provide multilateral support for climate change finance. Now it must become ‘de rigueur’!

by David Robinson

At COP21, Quebec announced Cdn$25.5 million of climate finance for developing countries, including Cdn$6 million through the multilateral LDC Fund. Al Gore thanked the Quebec people saying they were “becoming true heroes in the world’s effort to solve the climate crisis” and setting an example that would reverberate to regions and countries around the world. He was right. The Quebec model immediately became chic in Paris: the Brussels, Flanders and Walloon regions of Belgium, in addition to the city of Paris, all announced multilateral climate finance pledges. Other subnational governments are now considering following Quebec’s lead; a contribution to multinational climate finance may soon be de rigueur for the wealthy cities and regions of the world that are signatories of the Under2MOU.

On the Virtues of Strategic Divisions of Labour: Some thoughts on strategies for the Green Climate Fund and the Financial Mechanism of the Paris Agreement  

by Benito Müller

 It is imperative that the recently launched GCF strategic planning process focus not only on strategic objectives and the like, but also on institutional and governance architecture, and in particular on enhancing complementarity, effectiveness, and efficiency through a division of labour between the GCF as wholesale agent, and other funding entities as specialized retailers, be it in-country (preferably) through Enhanced Direct Access, or through designated international funds, in particular those that will be serving the financial mechanism of the new Paris Agreement.

A case for Jumping the Queue!  

by Benito Müller

At the tenth meeting of the GCF Board (July 2015), the Accreditation Committee was requested to work on a strategy on accreditation, “examining efficiency, fairness and transparency of the accreditation process, and the extent to which current and future accredited entities will enable the Fund to fulfil its mandate.” This blog argues that for reasons of efficiency and fairness, the strategy will need to pursue two strategic objectives, namely:

  1. achieving a fair balance between international and direct access entities, and
  2. ensuring that the GFC is not suffocated by overwhelming numbers of accredited entities.

After examining the current state of affairs, the blog proposes that in the short-term, the most effective way to mitigate the existing imbalances (as well as to incentivise the “signature” Enhanced Direct Access modality) would be to grant top priority accreditation to nation-wide entities submitting an EDA pilot proposal.

A Momentous Event: The Launch of the GCF Enhanced Direct Access Pilot Phase  

by Benito Müller

The first, and possibly most momentous decision to be adopted on the final day of the tenth Green Climate Fund Board meeting was the launch of a five year pilot phase on enhanced direct access. The EDA Pilot will initially aim to provide up to US$ 200 million for at least ten pilots, including at least four pilots to be implemented in Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries and African States. The decision-making on the specific projects and programmes to be funded will be made at the national or subnational level, and such direct access is a means to increase the level of country ownership over those projects and programmes.

A Lifeline for the Adaptation Fund?   

by Benito Müller

What should be the role of the Adaptation Fund in the post-2015 climate finance regime? In particular, what should be its relation with the Green Climate Fund? This blog by Benito Müller argues that it makes sense for both the AF and the GCF to harness their complementarities by making the AF the main multilateral “retail outlet” of the GCF for concrete small and micro adaptation projects, particularly under the regular direct access modality, as pioneered by the AF. For this to happen, the AF Board must (i) become an accredited intermediary (‘funding entity’) of the GCF, and (ii) arrange a ‘complementarity MOU’ with the GCF.

 

Consolidation for devolution: Balancing top-down and bottom-up elements of climate finance governance in India

by Anju Sharma, Benito Müller & Pratim Roy                            

Consolidating national and international climate finance in a national fund in India could help ensure common principles; coherence with national strategies; distributive justice; prioritisation of the needs of the most vulnerable; balance between adaptation and mitigation; and continuous review, to enable course corrections when necessary. However, such consolidation must come with a strong commitment to devolution.

 

Five important national considerations that must trump GCF readiness

by Anju Sharma

With pledges exceeding US$10 billion, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) is open for business, and expected to start disbursing funds over the next few months. This is a good time, therefore, to remind policy makers in developing countries that GCF requirements are only one part of the picture– there are far more important national considerations that should be taken into account first, before deciding where the GCF arrangements will fit in.

GCF Direct Access Accreditation: A Simple Strategy 

by Benito Müller

Following the call for some strategic thought on accreditation with the GCF, this blog proposes a very simple two-element accreditation strategy for direct access to the GCF:

  • Introduce a time limit of five years on accreditations (for all entities), with the possibility of renewal, depending on re-nomination by the recipient country and GCF Board approval.
  • Limit the number of entities that can access the GCF directly to one or two per recipient country.

 

Access to Green Climate Fund: In Desperate Need of a Strategy

by Benito Müller

The recent meeting of the Green Climate Fund (Barbados 14-17 October 2014) saw a number of decisions, some of them potentially path breaking, others in need of some further strategic thought. This blog argues that the latter is particularly true for the decisions that were taken with regard to the accreditation of implementing entities and intermediaries, admitting all and sundry, if only they satisfy certain fiduciary and other standards.

 

Will India be the Grim Reaper again?  Ministers gather in a huddle where agreement was reached to extend the Kyoto Protocol during a plenary session at COP17 in Durban

by Anju Sharma                            

  At the 2011 Durban climate conference, India was singled out in the final show-down, and portrayed as signing the death sentence for the poor of the world. History may well repeat itself in Lima and Paris unless India takes a more proactive position.

 

Vulnerable India 8: Weather advisories need a human face, and crop insurance needs a makeover 

by Anju Sharma                                                         

The plight of India’s poor farmers is poignantly highlighted by the suicides that continue to take place each year. More effective risk management and transfer mechanisms are urgently needed – and this need is  likely to heighten as the climate becomes even more variable. This blog reviews India’s experience with risk management and transfer, through weather advisories and crop insurance.

 

Green Climate Fund takes a significant step forward

by Benito Müller

At its eighth meeting in Bridgetown, Barbados, the GCF Board has taken the decision to prepare a Pilot Phase for Enhanced Direct Access (EDA), which refers to the devolution of specific activity approval decisions to recipient country funding entities, such as the growing number of climate funds established by developing countries as funding instruments for national climate change strategies. This decision will move the idea of EDA centre stage in the global effort to support developing countries in their efforts to combat climate change and its adverse effects at scale. This is why, in years to come, the Barbados meeting may well be judged to have been an historic event.

 

Vulnerable India 7: Learning from India’s agriculture policy 

by Anju Sharma

The threat to agriculture is one of India’s top concerns when it comes to climate change. This blog is a reflection on how India has sought to address the existing vulnerability of its rain-dependent farmers, and what lessons this experience holds for future responses to climate change.

 

Climate change and the post-2015 goals: Passing ships or all in the same boat?

by Anju Sharma

Part 2: Means of implementation

With 2015 potentially signaling a new chapter for the “global partnership” for poverty eradication and sustainable development, developing country leaders have to consider one question very carefully: do they really want to perpetuate the aid and charity paradigm that reduced them to unequal partners in this partnership for the last half century? This blog considers options, mainly in the context of the new report by the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts Sustainable Development Financing (ICESDF).

 

Climate change and the post-2015 goals: Passing ships or all in the same boat? 

by Anju Sharma

Part 1: Differentiating responsibility 

The principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities, viewed as a  dilution of the more straight-forward polluter pays principle when it was adopted, is being challenged by developed countries in both the post-2015 and climate change negotiations. But unless developed countries take the lead in accepting responsibility, and take steps to correct current deficits in global governance, multilateralism will degenerate into an even more acrimonious blame game.

Vulnerable India 6: Decentralisation and its discontents

by Anju Sharma

Adaptation efforts are better off contributing to improving and strengthening  existing infrastructure for decentralised governance, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel within the limited budget, time and experience available for adaptation. As the experience in India shows, it is not easy to get the powers-that-be to relinquish their powers to local communities, or indeed to bring communities up to speed in self-governance.

 

Vulnerable India 5: Can the environment ministry lead on climate change?

by Anju Sharma

The Indian Ministry for Environment and Forests (MOEF) has been renamed the Ministry for Environment, Forests and Climate Change by the new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This is meant to indicate the climate change will be a priority for the Modi administration, with MOEF in the lead. But is the MOEF really the best option to lead action on mitigation or adaptation in India?

 

Vulnerable India 4: Modi must deal with the ecological vulnerability of India’s poor

by Anju Sharma

Narendra Modi, leader of the centre-right National Democratic Alliance, took oath as Prime Minster this week following a landslide election victory for the Bharatiya Janata Party. What will this mean for India’s poor, and their vulnerability to climate change? To answer this question, we must first delve once again into the causes of poverty and vulnerability in India.

The Green Climate Fund at the Cross Roads: Bog standard or ground-breaking? 

by Benito Müller

How to ensure the Green Climate Fund becomes truly ground-breaking in the international climate finance regime

 

Avoiding Firewall Fundamentalism

by Benito Müller

Who is expected to do what under the 2015 Paris climate change agreement? In the Kyoto Protocol, this question was settled by introducing a list of legally binding Quantified Emission Limitation and Reduction Obligations (QELROs), based on a country list (Annex I) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, a list which has not changed since it was first adopted in 1992 and which has been dubbed the “firewall”. This blog considers the role of such country list annexes in the new agreement and proposes a pragmatic alternative.

 

Vulnerable India 3: The politics of vulnerability  

by Anju Sharma

What is the nature of India’s vulnerability to climate change? This is a very important question. How we choose to answer it will determine whether we see and respond to the whole picture; or whether we choose to see only part of it and address it with ineffective, inefficient, inequitable and piecemeal solutions.

Vulnerable India 2: Beneath the veneer  

by Anju Sharma

The polishing of India’s image in the recent past appears to be slowly erasing an integral truth about the country. ‘India Shining’ and ‘Incredible India’ at home, the country is commonly referred to as an ‘emerging economy’, a ‘key/large developing country’, and even a ‘major economy’ in the global arena, particularly in the context of the international climate change negotiations. ‘Vulnerable India’ – a country with more poor people than all the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) put together – is acknowledged less often in India and abroad.

 

Vulnerable India 1: Climate change in the world’slargest democracy  

by Anju Sharma

Can local governments and communities take the lead in development and in climate change adaptation? Do they have the capacity? What about problems with national and local governance? What about the power relationships between the rich and poor within countries? These are some of the questions that I have been asked in response to my previous blogs on Community Driven Development (CDD) and Community Driven Adaptation (CDA).

 

Why Community Based Adaptation is not enough  

by Anju Sharma

“Community-based” can mean anything. It can mean that one meeting was held with a community to inform them of a project or activity that has already been pre-decided by a donor or a government. It almost certainly means that someone else is holding the purse strings, and is therefore calling the shots.

 

Don’t Sink Our Ship!

by Benito Müller

In November 2011, at the climate change conference in Durban, the Chair of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group ended his address with a passionate plea to Parties that are unable or unwilling to sign up to a legally binding Protocol. He asked them to let others who are willing, like the LDCs, to go ahead instead of sinking the entire ship. Two years later, half way to when the negotiations are meant to conclude, that plea unfortunately needs to be repeated more than ever.

 

The Green Climate Fund’s redress mechanism: A cautionary tale from Nagarahole

by Anju Sharma

The experience of forest communities in Nagarahole National Park in South India highlights just how difficult it can be for local communities to have their concerns reflected in activities financed by global funds, and for them to seek redress when their basic rights are flouted. It points to the need for GCF activities to not only seek prior informed consent from potentially affected communities, but also to create effective redress mechanisms that are easily accessible by local communities in case projects are deemed harmful after they have been approved.

 

In Bali, build a Fund you can be proud of

by Anju Sharma

In about a week’s time, the Green Climate Fund Board will meet in Bali to continue discussions on the design of what could be a radical new global fund. This will be a critical meeting – it will decide whether the GCF Board chooses to be radical in order to be effective, or simply opt for the easy, same old International Financial Institution (IFI) business-as-usual model of “doesn’t really work, but we’re afraid of transformational change”.

 

Forget global goals. Focus on empowering communities

by Anju Sharma

There is a lot of talk about “paradigm change” and “transformational change” these days, both in the context of climate change, and the post-2015 process. Do we, and our governments (in both developed and developing countries), have the stomach for it? If so, we should make Community Driven Development the primary goal for global development policy.

 

Let form follow clarity on function in GCF design

by Anju Sharma

The “access modalities” of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) – how countries will gain access to GCF funds – will largely determine the architecture of the Fund, including the form and function of the National Designated Authorities (NDAs). It is therefore somewhat surprising that the GCF Board chose to discuss NDAs first, before a discussion on access modalities. How can it expect agreement on the form of the GCF’s national architecture, before first being clear on its function?

 

A Staged Approach: The sequencing of mitigation commitments in the post-2020 ADP negotiations

by Benito Müller

One of the key problems for the upcoming international Climate Change Conference in Warsaw is how to divide the work between now and the Paris conference in 2015, when a new agreement is meant to be agreed. We propose a three-stage approach, based on the successful sequencing used in the Kyoto Protocol negotiations.

 

Same old, same old … Too late for a paradigm shift?

by Benito Müller

“Paradigm shifts” are very often referred to in GCF parlance, but mostly in the context of low-emission and climate-resilient pathways. However, if the GCF is to achieve its objectives, then a “same old, same old” finance paradigm will not suffice.

 

Five reasons why Rajasthan is (a little) less vulnerable to climate change

by Anju Sharma

Rajasthan demonstrates the effectiveness of local action in making and implementing policies, and giving real meaning to terms that remain abstract in the global negotiations on climate change.

 

Even God is vulnerable

by Anju Sharma

Global warming melts one of the holiest Hindu shrines, which will need to be refrigerated in future.

 

Maladaptation in Maldha

by Anju Sharma

Farmer vulnerability to floods in this district in West Bengal is compounded by poor planning.

 

Exile of the poor

by Anju Sharma

Economists Jean Dréze and Amratya Sen say lack of focus on how to make decision makers and operators accountable and responsible, combined with the failure of the Indian media to point out the disparities and inequalities of Indian society, are responsible for the country’s poor performance on social indicators.

 

Can the system adapt?

by Anju Sharma

Improving the effectiveness of existing systems and processes that address poverty and the needs of the poor is an important component of addressing their vulnerability to climate change. Are we investing enough effort in making these systems work? What more can we do?

 

Transparency on ice: GCF Board decision beggars belief

by Anju Sharma

The Board of the Green Climate Fund takes an absurd decision on webcasting.

The depths of disaster 

by Anju Sharma

The flash floods in Uttarakhand, India, are a reminder that a cosmetic layer of “adaptation action” alone will not prepare us for future climate-related disasters. Deeper, more systemic issues must also be addressed if we are to limit human losses from the increased number of climate-related extreme events that are expected in future.

 

Where’s “Me”?

by Anju Sharma

In which I try to come out.

 

Draft report of High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Agenda does not address the bigger (and more problematic) picture

by Anju Sharma

The draft report of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda does not convincingly address many of the key problems that currently stall international processes and agreements.

 

The rot starts at the top

by Anju Sharma

Why are we here talking about SDGs, when someone else somewhere else is talking about successors to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)?

 

The Post-2015 “golden thread” must weave in a global strand

by Anju Sharma

As co-chair of the U.N.’s High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, Cameron must ensure that a commitment to good global governance leads the way in the world beyond 2015. Otherwise, his golden thread might well be reduced to yet another global yarn.

 

Civil Society, Refuse to be Abused

by Anju Sharma

Meaningful civil society engagement is perhaps the shot in the arm that can root global environmental policy making in reality and hence make it more effective.

 

A fig leaf for climate finance  

by Anju Sharma

It is a matter of considerable concern that the current draft of the Board’s Rules of Procedure are more regressive than existing procedures for stakeholder participation in other international financial institutions.

At its eighth meeting in Bridgetown, Barbados, the GCF Board has taken the decision to prepare a Pilot Phase for Enhanced Direct Access (EDA), which refers to the devolution of specific activity approval decisions to recipient country funding entities, such as the growing number of climate funds established by developing countries as funding instruments for national climate change strategies. This decision will move the idea of EDA centre stage in the global effort to support developing countries in their efforts to combat climate change and its adverse effects at scale. This is why, in years to come, the Barbados meeting may well be judged to have been a historic event.