Climate finance: for transformative change (?)

Posted on 10 February 2015
Five years from the next big ‘deadline on climate’, world leaders are still negotiating over deadlines. They are nowhere near agreeing on, much less mobilizing, even a basic roadmap for ensuring the fulfillment of commitments made by northern countries to the global south. This includes bankrolling US $100 billion of climate finance to developing countries every year by 2020, an amount climate scientists estimate is itself barely enough to meet the challenges we face.  
 Even a discussion of mandatory pledges seems off the table in Paris, and we of the global south are left pining after the benevolence of rich country donors to meet their commitments, even as our own governments struggle to meet their commitments around poverty reduction and environmental sustainability, and the raising of living standards for the majority of our people.
Where things stand, it is clear our governments are locked in the same paradigms that landed us in the dilemma we are now in, however much the language in the climate debates have shifted over recent years. Indeed climate change has become so de rigueur that it has become bound up with the discourse around development in general.
Yet at the moment it is unclear precisely where climate finance is to factor in the “Post-2015 New World” that we are repeatedly promised. Debates around the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the means to finance them, proceed largely along separate channels. The incoherence around the negotiations jars uneasily with the rhetoric around broader changes in the global development arena.
Principles for climate finance and beyond
In this context, civil society is told to limit our aspirations within reasonable bounds. We beg to differ, and suggest the following first principles for financing genuine transformation in the future climate regime and beyond.
First of all, we hold that climate finance, as with development assistance, must adhere to the Paris and Busan commitments on aid and development effectiveness.   ODA and climate finance must be kept separate, new and additional . The bulk of climate finance should be secured through public channels , such as domestic carbon taxes in developed countries, redirection of government subsidies away from fossil fuels, an international fuel levy on the aviation and maritime industries, and a global financial transactions tax.
Moreover any climate finance regime that emerges after 2015 should promote a real transformative shift away from old development paradigms , and should desist from reliance on market-based mechanisms as ‘solutions’ to the climate crisis, including carbon trading and clean development mechanism projects, which disproportionately benefit big investors and larger developing countries like India or China, where more than 70% of CDM projects are currently hosted.
Above all, effective restrictions must be in place to prevent institutions like the Green Climate Fund (GCF) from financing fossil fuel energy projects in the global south. Climate finance must instead go toward investments rooted in a solid scientific understanding of the causes and solutions to climate change , solutions which are often counter-intuitive and go against the existing penchant for
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