At the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancún, delegates voted to set up a Green Climate Fund (GCF) to help poorer countries adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change. The Fund would draw on the coffers of the developed world, which collectively pledged to raise $100 billion per year by 2020. Three years later, the fund is beginning its first round of fundraising, but the still-weak global economy has the Financial Times wondering “where even the first $100m will come from.” The FT reports:
“Grants and concessional loans are scarce resources, especially in a world where many of the traditional developed country contributors are still recovering from the global financial and economic crisis,” said Hela Cheikhrouhou, executive director of the UN’s Green Climate Fund. [...]
A failure to act quickly has its own costs, she warned. “It’s like a snowball effect: the more you delay action the more the action will be costly,” she said in an interview with the Financial Times.
On this last point, Cheikhrouhou is wrong. Sometimes delays can save you from costly mistakes.
If the GCF raises the necessary funds, it is supposed to invest them in zero-carbon energy sources and seed infrastructure projects in the developing world. In both cases, the delays might not be as terrible as greens think. Right now alternative energy is struggling to compete on a non-subsidized basis with fossil fuels; a few years down the line, technological advances may have leveled the playing field—and a lot of money would have been saved by not investing in obsolescent, uncompetitive technology. A short delay now may pay dividends down the road.
[Green tree pie chart image courtesy of Shutterstock]