Switzerland contributes to the Green Climate Fund

Article, 19.11.2014

Switzerland is supporting the initial capitalisation of the multilateral Green Climate Fund with USD 100 million. The Green Climate Fund will support countries in drawing-up climate policies and implementing measures. Anton Hilber, head of the SDC’s Global Programme on Climate Change, explains Switzerland’s commitment to the Green Climate Fund and outlines the SDC’s priorities regarding climate policy.

The Green Climate Fund aims to promote low-emission and climate-resilient development. © FDFA

Mr Hilber, what does the Green Climate Fund aim to achieve?
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) will finance climate protection measures in developing countries. There are two priority areas - reducing emissions and adapting to climate change.

The GCF is a fund for the environment and development. Experience has shown that environmental objectives can only be successfully achieved in developing countries if the country concerned simultaneously benefits from development measures.

How will the GCF work?
The GCF will adopt a programme-oriented approach. The beneficiary countries will establish policies and legislation on emissions reduction and adaptation measures, and will define implementing measures, which the GCF can then co-finance.

With its programmatic approach, the GCF differs from existing climate funds, such as the Global Environment Facility (GEF) or the Adaptation Fund. These funds work on a project-specific basis.

Greenhouse gas emissions are rising at an alarming rate and, owing to the general growth trend, they are constantly increasing above all in developing countries. Continual and resource-intensive progress is producing more and more CO2 emissions. Global emissions have more than doubled between 1970 and the present day. Around 70% is caused by the energy industry in the buildings, transport and electricity production sectors. Land use and deforestation account for a further 20%.

The GCF funding is to be invested in a future with low-emission technologies and systematic resource efficiency.

Anton Hilber, head of the SDC’s Global Programme on Climate Change
Anton Hilber, head of the SDC’s Global Programme on Climate Change, emphasises that Switzerland strongly supports cooperation between the Green Climate Fund and the private sector. © SDC

Could you provide an example to illustrate the GCF mechanism?
One example is the promotion of renewable energies in China. China is playing a leading role in renewable energies and the environmental problem has therefore been recognised. However, growth in China is so great that all kinds of energy are still being expanded, including the environmentally harmful ones.

Targeted additional funding from the GCF will enable existing renewable energy measures to be expanded and increased in terms of volume. This will be achieved, for example, by providing guarantees for local banks that contribute towards risk reduction.

“Readiness funds” will be made available for the world’s poorest countries. These countries will receive support with the national planning of adaptation measures and emission reductions as well as with the structuring of financially feasible programmes and projects.

To what extent is Switzerland involved in the Green Climate Fund?
Switzerland sits on the GCF’s executive board and therefore influences the fund’s organisation and allocation of resources. It strongly advocates close cooperation between the fund and the private sector. This is based on its conviction that the transition to low-emission and climate-resilient societies and economies cannot be brought about with public funding alone. The private sector also needs to switch to low-emission technologies. One of the GCF’s objectives is to mobilise a multiple amount of private sector funding with public money.

Switzerland also co-chairs the Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) at the GCF. This is a group of experts with representatives from the private sector, civil society and the executive board. It advises the GCF on cooperation with the private sector.

Why is Switzerland supporting the Green Climate Fund?
Switzerland is committed to the GCF for various reasons. On one hand, Switzerland supports the decisions of the international community concerning the climate. Climate protection is a worldwide issue that has to be tackled globally. The latest opinion polls also indicate that the Swiss regard climate protection as a top priority.

Even before 2012, it was clear that there would be a new global climate fund. The co-financing of the GCF is mentioned in the Federal Council Dispatch to Parliament on International Cooperation 2013-2016. Funding was consequently earmarked in the SDC’s budget which will now be allocated.

Switzerland took part in the Green Climate Fund’s pledging conference on 19–20 November 2014 in Berlin. How did it position itself?
Switzerland stated it was willing to donate USD 100 million to the initial capitalisation of the fund, in three annual tranches starting in 2015.

What are the SDC’s climate protection priorities in developing countries?
The SDC regards providing the poorer levels of the population with access to electricity from renewable energies as a matter of fundamental importance. Around 1.3 billion people have no electricity supply and in some African countries less than 20% of households are connected to a power grid. Global emissions would only increase slightly if these people were provided with electricity from renewable energies.

A further SDC priority is to support developing countries in establishing measures to adapt to climate change. The emphasis here is placed on problems concerning water and food security.

The SDC’s climate commitment should also promote development. One example is the manufacture of bricks in countries such as India. This often generates enormous emissions of pollutants. The SDC is passing on Swiss specialist expertise to enable bricks to be made in a more eco-friendly way. This achieves various benefits. In addition to emissions reduction, it ensures a better quality product, greater resource efficiency, improved working conditions and more jobs.

In which countries is the SDC primarily active in terms of climate protection?
The SDC’s new Global Programme on Climate Change focuses on China, India, Peru and South Africa.

However, the SDC is also increasingly active in its priority countries in the field of climate protection. These include many African nations, such as Burkina Faso, Mali and Mozambique.

The poorest countries tend to be most severely hit by the impact of climate change despite contributing to it the least.

What climate problems does Switzerland anticipate in developing countries?
The SDC, together with the World Bank, carried out the pioneering study “Economics of Adaptation” to be able to get an idea of what lies ahead for the countries in terms of climate. Water is a fundamental concern. Dry regions are becoming even drier and wet ones even wetter. This means they will face even greater danger of storms and flooding than at present. The water problem has knock-on effects, e.g. food insecurity and water scarcity with an increasing population. Based on growth trends, the population will rise to 10 billion people by 2050. The growth will primarily take place in urban areas in developing countries.

These trends clearly show that a rapid transformation towards energy and resource efficiency has to take place. There will be no sustainable development otherwise. Major climatic changes would endanger both the achievements of development to date and development in the future. The states can less and less afford not to act. The cost of eliminating the consequences of climate change will rise increasingly if no action is taken.

To what extent is the SDC involved in the preparations for the climate summit on 1 December 2014 in Lima?
The SDC is a member of the Federal Council negotiating delegation. The SDC is focusing on the financing of climate protection measures in developing countries and, in particular, on adaptation. It is also organising events around the climate summit where it will highlight its own commitment to climate protection as well as that of its partners.


The Green Climate Fund for climate protection measures in developing countries

The creation of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) was agreed in 2010 at the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancún, Mexico. The fund aims to promote low-emission and climate-resilient development. This takes particular account of the poorest developing countries which are often severely affected by climate change and do not have sufficient financial resources for climate protection measures. In contrast to other multilateral climate funds – e.g. the Global Environment Facility or the Adaptation Fund – the GCF has its own legal personality and therefore the status of an international organisation. From 19–20 November 2014, a pledging conference took place in Berlin for the initial capitalisation of the GCF. With the funding from the donor countries discussed at the Berlin conference, the GCF will commence its activities in 2015.

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