Founding the Climate Solidarity Alliance: Possible Next Steps

Benito Müller

The Climate Solidarity Alliance (CSA) proposal is to establish an alliance of (national and sub-national) actors that are able and willing to introduce a Climate Solidarity Levy (CSL) earmarked as an innovative source of funding for responding to loss and damage from adverse climate impacts, in particular through the new multilateral Loss & Damage Fund (L&DF).

The proposal envisages a number of possible CSL, collected at the national or sub-national level. Their key characteristics are being: (i) easily collectable and (ii) earmarked for loss and damage. The paradigm example is an air ticket charge, akin to the French solidarity tax on airplane tickets of 2006. It is envisaged that the CSLs be used both domestically and to contribute to the L&DF, according to distribution formula (to be agreed between the CSA members) which could set limits on domestic use and introduce an L&DF solidarity pay-back multiplier for certain contributors.

Our approach to establishing a CSA is to complement other initiatives looking into potential innovative global sources (taxes/levies) such as the new global taxation taskforce for climate action and sustainable development, launched at COP 28 and co-chaired by Barbados, France and Kenya, by acting now, voluntarily, without the need of a multilateral agreement.

Good COP? Bad COP? Time to reform COP!

Luis Gomez-Echeverri and Benito Müller with contributions by Jen Allan, Matthias Rösti and Stefan Ruchti

With over 80,000 participants in the UN “Blue Zone” (and many more in the adjacent host-country “Green Zone”), the recent climate conference (COP28) in Dubai was no doubt the largest multilateral climate event ever held. The authors of this post were impressed by the enthusiasm, and the global and diverse involvement of so many stakeholders, yet, in the light of their 2021 ecbi Policy Report (Quo Vadis COP?) felt this to be time to take a step back and re-examine how best to maximize the benefit from this enthusiasm without creating detrimental side-effects. It was thus decided to re-visit and update the 2021 Report, and to write this post to set the scene.

Nomen est Omen!

Benito Müller (OCP/ecbi)

This posts begins with a brief historical account of the evolution of the “Loss and Damage” narrative in the multilateral climate negotiation, and ends up with suggesting that if the liability spectre associated with the phrase is too much for some, maybe the name of new fund could be more specific, if not “Climate Impact Response Fund” then maybe “Climate Impact Recovery, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation (CIR3) Fund”? The fact is, a name can be a sign of something to come, an omen. What we need to avoid is that it is regarded as a bad omen, if we want to avoid what happened over the last thirty years!

COP28: Call for a Climate Solidarity Alliance

Benito Müller (OCP/ecbi)

This post argues calls for a Climate Solidarity Alliance (CSA) as a group of national and sub-national stakeholders who are able and willing to introduce a CSL in their jurisdiction. This is what we need! And when do we need it? NOW! With a possible launch of the CSA at the “finance COP” in 2024.

Some Thoughts on Access Modalities for the new Loss and Damage Response Fund

Benito Müller (OCP/ecbi)

This post recapitulates some reflections on a topic I have been passionate about for some time: the devolution of funding decisions to the national and sub-national level —- be it under the heading of ‘enhanced direct-‘ or ‘devolved programmatic access’ — as a contribution to the operationalisation of the new loss and damage response fund.

Procedural justice and (in-) equitable participation in climate negotiations

Carola Klöck (CERI, Sciences Po Paris), Christian Baatz and Nils Wendler (University of Kiel)

The upcoming COP28 is expected to be the largest COP ever. Despite growing numbers of attendees, delegation size varies enormously across countries. Some countries send only a handful of delegates that struggle to participate fully and effectively, raising questions of procedural justice. To improve the negotiation process, we need not only more support for underrepresented countries but could also streamline and reform the entire negotiation process.

Call for an International Climate Solidarity Alliance 

Benito Müller

A call on Kenyan President Ruto and French President Macron, as proponents of CSLs announce, to launch an International Climate Solidarity Alliance of countries willing to adopt an International Climate Solidarity Levy, initially focussed on air-ticket levies.

Climate Solidarity Levies Manifesto

Benito Müller (OCP), Saleemul Huq (ICCCAD), Robert Filipp (IFF)

Given the urgency to provide financial support to the poorest and most vulnerable countries to respond to loss and damage from climate change and given the current global economic and fiscal situation, it is difficult to see how the new Loss & Damage Response Fund could get adequately capitalized without diverting funds from other existing multilateral climate funds. This is why Climate Solidarity Levies should be used as a proven way to mobilize new, additional and predictable innovative resources so as to avoid fund diversions from other climate funds. We call on governments to give Climate Solidarity Levies for the Loss and Damage Response Fund due consideration.

Piloting New Loss and Damage Funding Arrangements 

Benito Müller

On 20 November 2022, a Decision was taken at Sharm el Sheikh on “funding arrangements for responding to loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change” which is widely regarded as historic and as the principal outcome of the 2022 UN climate conference (COP 27/CMA4). In a nutshell, the Decision establishes:

  1. new funding arrangements” for assisting particularly vulnerable developing countries in responding to loss and damage”;
  2. loss and damage response fun;, and
  3. “a transitional committee on the operationalization of the new funding arrangements.

This post discusses the need for innovative funding sources and innovative response tools for these new funding arrangements and the new fund, and suggests a way in which both can be developed and tested speedily by operationalizing new Loss and Damage Pilot Funding Arrangements.

Time to Respond! 

Malik Amin Aslam Khan and Benito Müller

OpEd by Malik Amin Aslam Khan, former Pakistan Minister for climate change and Benito Müller. The authors make the case that “we urgently need a new multilateral pilot fund to respond to such climate induced Loss and Damage. This fund should be focussed on recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation after having suffered adverse climate impacts. Leaders must heed to their genuine demands and help these most vulnerable displaced people to relocate their lives with dignity and rebuild critical infrastructure in a climate compatible manner. COP27 offers yet another opportunity for leaders to fill the gap in existing funding arrangements that are no longer adequate to meet the requirements of the most vulnerable countries.”

Elements for a Pilot Loss and Damage Response Fund 

Benito Müller

This Note (with contributions by Diann Black-Layne and Kishan Kumarsingh) aims to provide food for thought regarding four key questions concerning the idea of such a pilot fund, namely: 

  • Why a new fund?
  • How to set it up?
  • What type of ‘response’ should the pilot fund focus on?
  • How could the pilot fund be resourced?

It aims to facilitate finding a mutual comfort zone/landing ground for the L&D finance negotiations at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh.

The time is ripe … for serious discussions on finance to address and indeed respond to L&D through a dedicated pilot fund

Benito Müller

This Note looks at the history of these deliberations, which began in 1991 with an AOSIS proposal to establish an International Insurance Pool. The Note looks at the evolution of the L&D finance narrative and action, focussing on recent events, including the 2022 ecbi Oxford Seminar, where the idea of a ‘Pilot Fund for L&D’ was mooted.

Safeguarding Social Integrity in the Voluntary Carbon Market

Benito Müller

The reputational risk of neglecting the poorest and most vulnerable and how to mitigate it with a Share of Proceeds for Adaptation (SOPA) as an innovative source of finance for concrete adaptation projects, particularly in Least Developped Countries and Small Island States

Just Transition: Response Measures and Loss & Damage!

Benito Müller with Saleemul Huq and Mizan Khan

Measures to respond to climate emergency as well as climate change impacts affect jobs and livelihoods. The issue referred to in this context as ‘just transition’ is the need to ensure that social injustices due to resulting job and livelihood losses are addressed, so that no-one thus affected is ‘left behind’. 

The New Collective Quantified Goal on Climate Finance

Benito Müller

This post argues that to avoid further mutually assured unhappiness due to a lack of agreement what constitutes ‘climate finance’, the negotiations for a new collective finance goal should be re-focused on public sector adaptation funding.

An OCP/ecbi Submission based on this post to CMA.4 containing Views on the New Collective Quantified Goal as specified in Paras. 15 and 16 Of Decision 9/CMA.3 has been accepted on 31 January 2022.

Rethinking air travel in a globally connected world: Beyond Flying?

Benito Müller

It must be rare to be referred to as “one of the most destructive voices in modern climate dialogues.” Read this post to find out how to obtain this epithet.

Enough with the Madness!

Benito Müller

In this post Professor Müller argues that, in order to start redressing the unsustainable growth of COP participant numbers, the UN Secretary-General should hold the summit he was invited to convene in 2023 (in order “to consider ambition to 2030”) as part of a Global Climate Action week in Geneva (proposed in a recent ecbi Policy Report), in partnership with the COP 27 and COP 28 Presidencies as venue for (some if not all of) the ‘Green Zone’ climate action events.

COP26: Clouds and silver linings

David Robinson

The sense of disappointment at the COP26 outcome was evident in the tears shed by COP President Ashok Sharma on the last day of the conference, and in his apologies for the way the conference ended; on a whimper.  This post explains why, which is easy to understand, given the inadequacy of the response to the climate emergency.  However, in spite of the many very dark clouds on the horizon, COP26 also had its silver linings, including finalizing the rule for common time frames (see below) and the other remaining items (Article 6 and transparency) in the Paris rule book. Probably the most important reasons to be positive about the outcome were the evidence of both State and non-State commitments to net zero, and of the effectiveness of climate activism.

The Common Time Frame has landed!

Benito Müller

On 13 November 2021 7:55pm, COP 26 President Alok Sharma gavelled the CMA Decision on Common time frames for nationally determined contributions referred to in Article 4, paragraph 10, of the Paris Agreement 

Rolling Time Frames … the Article 4.10 landing zone in Glasgow

Benito Müller

On 7 September 2021, Minister Mujawamariya of Rwanda and Minister Sommaruga of Switzerland, invited by the COP 26 Presidency to consult with ministers on Common Time Frames (CTF) for NDCs, convened a virtual Informal Ministerial Consultation on Common Time Frames for NDCs. This blog post  takes stock of the outcome of this consultation. 

What do you mean: ‘Common Time Frame’?

Benito Müller

This blog post looks at the issue of whether it is in the mandate of the Art. 4.10 negotiations to seek a single common time frame for NDCs. Based on a comparative analysis of the six official UN language texts, the post concludes not only that this is indeed the case, but also that the outcome of these negotiations ought to include the adoption of common end-years for NDCs.

A first case for the Compliance Committee of the Paris Agreement – the EU?

Christoph Schwarte

In his review of the EU climate policy, in the most recent edition of Climate Law, Christoph Schwarte, the executive director of OCP partner organisation LRI, draws attention to the EU’s missing notification under Article 4 of the Paris Agreement.

Completing the Paris Ambition Mechanism in Glasgow: Key Message for Policy Makers

Benito Müller

This post gives a succinct summary of why it is essential to adopt the Glasgow Ambition Cycle at COP 26

2 ‘update’ or not 2 ‘update’ every 5 years, that is the Q4

Benito Müller

The aim of this blog is to respond, on the basis of the Glasgow Ambition Cycle (GAC) proposal, to some comments that were made during the June 2021 informal SBI consultations on Common Time Frames.

Common Time Frames Synthesising the Options for a Decision in Glasgow

Benito Müller

This blog post aims to suggest a way in which whittle down the multitude of proposals concerning a Common Time Frame (CTF) for the Paris Agreement to a more manageable number without losing the key features of the originals.

For this, the post considers the different ways in which the existing proposals have been described and proposes a conceptual scheme not only to make them comparable, but synthesise them into smaller number of ‘synthesis options’ – preferably with all the advantages but none of the disadvantages of the originals. Indeed, the post aims to demonstrate that the Glasgow Ambition Cycle is a synthesis option that captures all the proposal in that manner.

The Glasgow Ambition Cycle — Domestic Considerations

The Case of India, of China, and of the European Union

Benito Müller (OCP), Chandra Bhushan (iFOREST), and Xin Li (OCP)

SBI Chair Marianne Karlsen (Norway) recently remarked: “Parties are increasingly realising the importance of the issue [CTF] to the overall dynamics and well-functioning of the Paris Agreement. Of course, it is important to keep in mind that CTF is very much a political issue because establishing timeframes often involves parliaments and cabinets. So, this has to be something that politicians also need to get on the radar to work with.”

This is why this OCP blog post takes a look at domestic considerations and demonstrates that the GAC is flexible enough to be accommodated and workable in three key Parties: India, China and the European Union.

Ambition Cycle on course to land in Glasgow

Outcomes and Report of the 2020 Technical Climate Dialogue on Common Time Frame(s) 

Kishan Kumarsingh, Benito Müller and Anju Sharma

The Dialogue revealed a number of important points about Art. 4.10 negotiations, chief among them that:

  • The technical discussion underlying the well-known negotiating options over the past negotiation sessions have been thorough and exhaustive.
  • The issue has matured to the point where Parties are ready and willing to arrive at a decision at COP26, which will signal a strong commitment by Parties to find workable solutions, conclude the Katowice rule book, and move to full implementation of the Paris Agreement.

The risks of not adopting a Paris Agreement Ambition Cycle at COP 26 in Glasgow

Benito Müller and Kishan Kumarsingh

Most countries will follow paragraph 24 of Paris Decision 1/CP.21 in the absence of agreement on an Ambition Cycle at the next climate conference. This comes with significant risks – not only to national ambition to address climate change and its impacts, but also to the process of assessing overall global progress, and of replenishing climate funds on the basis of national needs.

The Glasgow Ambition Cycle combines all the advantages of the options (5-years, 5+5-years, 10-years) that have been adopted under paragraphs 23 and 24, while avoiding their shortcomings. It is the missing link in the Paris Ambition Mechanism

International Bulk Purchasing for Technology Transfer

Benito Müller

UJALA is a LED lightbulb distribution scheme of the Indian government which through bulk reverse auctions managed to reduce the price of LED bulbs by almost 90 percent and which to date has managed to sell more than 360 million LED bulbs with estimated savings of more than 47 TWh,  representing 38 Mt CO2, annually. This blog looks at the idea of using similar techniques for the purpose of technology transfer, as envisaged under Article 6.8 of the Paris Agreement.

A Glasgow Ambition Cycle

Benito Müller

We cannot afford to postpone ratcheting up the ambition of targets (‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ or ‘NDCs’) originally announced five years ago! We need to complete the ‘Paris Ambition Mechanism’ by adding the final component to the current 5-yearly communication and stocktake cycles: an ambition (replenishment) cycle! This post summarises how this can be done.

Here’s looking at EU again! The European Climate Law

Benito Müller

The Climate Law recently published by the European Commission proposes the setting of a 2030-2050 EU-wide trajectory for greenhouse gas emission reductions, as well as five-yearly assessment of EU and national activities. To maximize the effect of  these measures, this post argues, the EU must switch from 10 year to 5 year targets in its Paris Agreement NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions).

Leipzig in September: Birth of a new G2?

Benito Müller

This post suggests that the September EU-China climate summit meeting in Leipzig could be the locus where China and the EU are demonstrating joint-leadership and decide to complete the Ambition Mechanism of the Paris Agreement

Enhance Climate Ambition in 2020: Here’s looking at EU, kid!

Benito Müller

There is no doubt: the citizens of the world will be looking to the EU to lead the way on enhancing the ambition of the initial Paris Agreement pledges — the initial ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ (NDCs) — at the UN Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow next December.

This post puts forward that the promised 2020 updating of the EU’s 2030 ambition provides a unique chance to complete the Paris Ambition Mechanism through what has become known as the Dynamic Contribution Cycle which will create the enabling environment for Parties to genuinely be as ambitious as possible, and to be able to react to changing circumstances over time.

COP 25: What is missing is global political leadership!

David Robinson

COP 25 is considered by many to have been a failure. This reflects a misunderstanding about what was possible or expected by people who understand how COPs work. Successful outcomes – especially in terms of commitments to greater ambition – depend on global political leadership and commitments made by major players before a COP; both were lacking prior to COP 25. The success of COP 26 requires evidence of global political leadership prior to that COP, starting with a strategic collaboration between the EU and China to lead on the implementation of the PA and to convince the rest of the world to follow.

Innovative Sources for Multilateral Climate Finance

Benito Müller

Seminar organised by the Paris Committee on Capacity Building (PCCB) and the European Capacity Building Initiative (ecbi) on 8 December 2018 in Katowice, Poland, during COP24. It showcased ideas for innovative, additional contributions to the funds of the UNFCCC Financial Mechanism and mechanisms to enhance their longer-term viability. Facilitated by Marzena Chodor, Co-Chair of the PCCB, the event was targeted at key stakeholders in the field of multilateral climate finance, including finance negotiators, representatives of relevant UNFCCC bodies, international financial institutions, NGOs, as well as independent experts.

Addressing the finance gap in sub-national contributions to the fight against climate change 

Anju Sharma

The pledges made by sub-national actors at the recent Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco focus mainly on mitigation. This blog presents three ideas, presented during an affiliate event at GCAS, on how they can contribute to another critical piece of the climate challenge – climate finance for developing countries.

Climate leadership in a historical perspective and lessons for the implementation of the Paris Agreement: reflections by a former negotiator

Bo Kjellen

Efficient leadership has been an important element in the history of the UNFCCC. In particular the US and the EU have been providing leadership at various moments in the now long history of the COP meetings. the most recent example is the way that France managed the preparations for COP 21 in Paris in 2015. In my paper I have also underlined that not only nations or the EU can provide decisive leadership: Individuals, in particular Chairpersons or coordinators on many occasions have proved decisive for the outcome of negotiations. Also, officials of the Secretariat have provided leadership on various occasions. As I have been actively involved in the negotiations over a long period of time I have been struck by the waves of optimism and pessimism that have appeared and disappeared. My own simple reading of the atmosphere in the negotiations is that things are never as good as they look when the prospects are positive, but that are never as bad as they seem when there is a crisis in the negotiation. Finally, I believe that the Paris Agreement with the NDC’s as the central instrument will require creative thinking and good leadership at all levels with innovative ways of operating the mechanisms of the Paris Agreement

GCF Board: In need of a cultural revolution!

Benito Müller

Anyone following climate finance who was not at the recent 20th meeting of the Green Climate Fund (B.20) can be forgiven for being taken aback to read: “Board meeting turns ‘toxic’ as UN climate fund runs low“ and “UN climate fund chief resigns for personal reasons while board meeting collapses“.

This blog looks more closely at the issues that lie behind the collapse of B.20 and suggest a few things that might help to improve the Board culture, not least because the time may now finally be ripe to do something about it. Why? There may be a willingness by the Board to look into how a repeat performance can be avoided. The purpose of this blog is to support the cultural revolution that is required for the GCF to do its job properly, not to say to survive.

We need Geo-engineering . . . of Consumer Aspirations!

Benito Müller

The fight against catastrophic climate change cannot be won without a radical change in consumer behaviour towards more sustainable life-styles. This has to happen at a global scale. The government approach to changing consumer behaviour consists by and large in supply management and (punitive) price signals. The private sector, not having the luxury of mandating changes, had to develop other tools, such as marketing, to influence consumer aspirations. This blog suggests that these tools, together with education, need to be used much more extensively in fighting catastrophic climate change, and puts forward the billion-Euro question:

  • What is more effective in our fight of climate change, putting a billion Euro into a carbon capture and storage plant, or putting it into education and marketing?

A Day in Agadir — sub-national contributions to multilateral climate finance

Benito Müller

A workshop convened by OCP on behalf of the European Capacity Building Initiative (ecbi) at the recent subnational Climate Summit in Agadir, Morocco, highlighted the emerging role of sub-national contributions to multilateral climate finance. The aim was to create awareness and buy-in among sub-national actors (governments, corporations, individuals) of the nascent initiatives of sub-national contributions to multilateral climate funds.

Massachusetts UN Least Developed Countries Fund

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

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?

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 

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

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

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

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?

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!

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’!

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  

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!  

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  

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?   

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

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

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 

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

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

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 

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

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 

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?

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? 

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

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?

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

 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? 

Benito Müller

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

Avoiding Firewall Fundamentalism

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  

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  

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  

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  

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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?

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

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

Anju Sharma

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

Maladaptation in Maldha

Anju Sharma

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

Exile of the poor

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?

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

Anju Sharma

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

The depths of disaster 

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”?

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

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

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

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

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  

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.