Climate Fund Struggling to Spend Money

The 2009 Copenhagen climate summit was roundly considered a colossal failure for the green movement, but it did produce something of note: a Green Climate Fund (GCF) to be paid into by the developed world and spent in the developing world to help vulnerable populations deal with the effects of climate change. This fund is supposed to dole out $100 billion in green investments annually, but so far has amassed just $10.5 billion in contributions. For its part, the U.S. made its first post-Paris summit payment earlier this week when the State Department diverted $500 million from its budget towards the UN-run fund (circumventing Congress, which has promised not to pay up).

Now, as Reuters reports, the Green Climate Fund is struggling to overcome some logistical hurdles in actually spending what little money it has thus far raised:

The Green Climate Fund…now faces the uphill task of allocating $2.5 billion this year for projects to tackle climate change, experts said.

The 24-member board of the fund, which aims to become a major channel for tens of billions of dollars to help poorer nations develop cleanly and adjust to more extreme weather and rising seas, approved 13 new agencies to carry out projects. It also agreed to raise the number of staff at the fund’s over-stretched secretariat to 140 by the end of 2017, up from 56 now, and it adopted a strategic plan. “The board has reached agreement this week on key decisions that help us deliver against our target of approving $2.5 billion in 2016,” said Ewen McDonald, a co-chair from Australia.

Shortly before last December’s climate summit, the GCF rushed to approve its first eight projects in an attempt to help build momentum for the upcoming talks. This expedited review process spent just $168 million, though, and the fund now hopes to invest an amount of money more than an order of magnitude larger this year—it’s no wonder that it’s having to invest in more personnel.

One of the chief concerns the developed world has with the GCF has to do with the impression that it has signed something that looks like a blank check, and that richer countries will be obliged to pour money into this endeavor indefinitely. Perhaps more concerning is the notion that the projects being funded will make juicy targets for green graft. Without proper oversight and project management, it’s easy to see how the unscrupulous might profit from GCF investments without actually producing the green goods they’re promising.

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