Nations pledge $9.3 bn for Green Climate Fund
Thirty nations meeting in Berlin Thursday pledged $9.3 billion (7.4 bn euros) for a fund to help developing countries cut emissions and prepare for global warming, just shy of a $10bn target.
The South Korea-based Green Climate Fund aims to help nations invest in clean energy and green technology and build up defences against rising seas and worsening storms, floods and droughts.
German Environment Minister Gerd Mueller, after co-hosting the donors' conference, hailed the achievement, saying humanity must fight climate change so "it doesn't go the way of the dinosaurs".
Hela Cheikhrouhou, the fund's executive director, praised the "game-changing" pledging conference which had raised a record amount for international climate finance in just five months.
She said the money would be spent equally for climate change adaptation and mitigation, especially for the most vulnerable nations, including small island nations and Africa's poorest countries.
Cheikhrouhou said raising the billions had created "renewed trust and enthusiasm" ahead of international talks in Peru next month, and in France a year later, on slashing worldwide carbon emissions.
The fund is designed to help those countries least to blame for, but most at risk from, climate change with grants, loans and private capital for projects such as solar and wind farms, planting trees or disaster-proofing infrastructure.
UN climate chief Christiana Figueres has called for an initial capitalisation of at least $10 billion by the end of the year, to be disbursed over four years from 2015.
The United States days ago pledged $3 billion and Japan $1.5 billion. Germany and France and Britain have promised about $1 billion each, and Sweden over $500 million.
Smaller amounts have been offered by countries including Switzerland, South Korea, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Mexico, Luxembourg and the Czech Republic.
- Melting ice, extreme weather -
The fund is seen as a step toward a far more ambitious goal set at the Copenhagen climate summit five years ago -- for the world to "mobilise" $100 billion a year for broader climate finance by 2020.
UN climate experts have cautioned there is no time to lose in the battle against global warming, which the world body's chief Ban Ki-moon last week labelled "the defining issue of our times".
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned this month that time is running out to limit warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100 from pre-industrial levels.
They said Earth is on a likely trajectory for at least four degrees Celsius warming -- a recipe for melting ice caps, extreme weather events, habitat and species loss and conflict for resources.
The UN Emissions Gap report released Wednesday reiterated that pollution is still rising and urged action for global carbon neutrality by mid-to-late century.
"This report is telling us that we are pointing in the wrong direction -- and time is running out for us to get back on track," said Taryn Fransen of co-authors the World Resources Institute.
After years that saw little progress in climate talks, the world's two biggest economies and top polluters, China and the United States, earlier this month agreed to new targets.
At a Beijing meeting, President Barack Obama committed the United States to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 26-28 percent by 2025 compared to two decades earlier.
China, the world's top polluter, agreed for the first time to slow emissions growth and ultimately reverse it after emissions peaking "around 2030."
The 28-nation European Union, the third-largest greenhouse gas producer, has pledged to cut its emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030 from 1990 levels.
© 2014 AFP