Green Climate Fund: A Centrifugal Force for Climate Crisis Amidst the 'Denial Doctrine' in the U.S.
By John Boal / The Environmental Magazine
Ok, climate nerds and nerdettes, it's time to flip the narrative on the doom and gloom.
While we're processing a double whammy of new scientific reporting—such as increased global air travel more than doubling from 3 percent to 8 percent of total CO2 emissions and global warming spiking the possibility of a complete oceanic circulation shutdown—and new outcomes such as the recent "rain bomb" of 50 inches in 24 hours hitting Kauai, Hawaii amidst the Neanderthal ostrich mentality of the "Denial Doctrine" by the U.S. Administration, fear not.
In Songdo, South Korea labeled as the "World's Smartest City," there is real hope—and billions of dollars being distributed to marginalized nations around the world—by the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
Once dismissed as nothing more than a "slush fund" by Congressional Republicans, the GCF is now the centrifugal force for the world to rally around its massive mobilization and distribution of not only direct funding but also lines of credit, private climate capital; $500 million for innovative ideas via its "Pitch for the Planet" and sharing of expertise to layer a cohesive resilience for projects comprised primarily for mitigation, adaptation and cross-cutting (i.e. combination of both) to the #1 exigent issue facing the planet.
Adopted in 2010, in Cancun, Mexico at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 16), the GCF was approved by 194 countries. In 2014, the GCF launched its drive for funding and now has $10.3 billion pledged.
While the U.S. pledged $3 billion—and delivered $1 billion to the GCF under the Obama Administration—France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom have all delivered at least $1 billion as well. The balance of the $5.3 billion in pledged funding has come from 43 countries and, notably, the City of Paris.
At its 19th Board meeting in March, 2018, the GCF approved $1.09 billion in funding for 23 projects such as:
- $86 million to Vietnam for Scaling Up Energy Efficiency for Industrial Enterprises
- $42 million to Grenada for its Climate Resilient Water Sector
- $33 million to North Rwanda for Strengthening its Climate Resilience of Rural Communities
- $32 million to Zambia for Strengthening its Climate Resilience of Agricultural Livelihoods
- $27 million to Barbados for it Water Sector Resilience Nexus for Sustainability
- $25 million to Paraguay for its Poverty, Reforestation, Energy and Climate Change Project
- $25 million to Bangladesh for Enhancing its Capacities to Cope with its Enhanced Salinity
So far, the GCF Board has awarded $3.7 billion for 76 projects and programs to assist developing countries for their low emission and climate resilient development both of which must also be sustainable.
While the news-centric TV media in the U.S. has for the most part completely eliminated any kind of in-depth reporting on the current fragile tipping point of our planet, the GCF has steered its organization and extensive one-on-one communications and outreach to these priority at-risk nations covering 28 African States; 26 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and 15 Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
Kiribati: A SIDS Rising Up
For more than 25 years, Kiribati has been a "poster nation" for the rising seas. Straddling the equator in the Pacific Ocean with just over 110,000 population, Kiribati and its pristine 33 atolls lie just 3 meters above sea level.
In 2008, its then President Anote Tong declared that Kiribati had reached the "point of no return" and added that its citizens need "to plan for the day when you no longer have a country is indeed painful, but I think we have to do that." Six years later in 2014, he then purchased 5,460 acres of land on Vanua Levu as an insurance plan for eventual relocation of his entire population at a cost of $9.3 million Australian dollars.
Now, under President Taneti Maamau, Kiribati is reversing its relocation strategy and embracing the opportunity to address three specific environmental issues. After receiving $586,000 in 2017 from the GCF to staff up and construct internal capacities under the Readiness Programme, Kiribati is making its first application to address its most pressing national need of a depleting fresh water supply from drought and rising salty sea water seeping into its groundwater.
"We have a proposal that is now with the GCF titled 'South Tarawa Water Supply Project' that seeks to provide water 24/7 to residents on South Tarawa where over half of the population currently resides," explained Jonathan Mitchell, director of Climate Finance in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. "The amount being sought from the GCF is circa US $25 million to $30 million." Moving forward, their second and third proposals will be for Coastal Protection and Renewable Energy as part of the Kiribati Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement.
Safeguards Sealed In
Talk about an organization that has its act together. It's as if the GCF's staff of 164 has embraced every TED Talk on how to engage, empathize, enlighten and empower those less fortunate who are also on the front lines of the climate crisis regardless of where they live in the world.
From the beginning, by holding "Structured Dialogues" bringing nations' representatives together regionally in Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific, the GCF provides such an egalitarian and well-choreographed human interaction with an inviting presentation such as "GCF 101," "Empowering Countries," "Simplified Approval Process" and "Safeguards" such as "Indigenous Peoples," "Mainstreaming Gender" and "Environmental and Social Safeguards."
For example on "Mainstreaming Gender," the GCF recognizes "The impacts of climate change affect women and men differently. Women are hardest hit by dramatic shifts in climate conditions. Women's mortality from climate-related disasters is higher than that of men. Compared to men, domestic burdens (e.g. collection of firewood and water) of women increase substantially with various manifestations of climate change."
To ensure the GCF is accountable for the billions in climate funding it's dispersing around the world, it created an Independent Evaluation Unit (IEU) in 2017 headed by Jyotsna Puri, a native of India.
"We now have excellent data and good technology to provide the evidence to deal with climate change and other challenges," Puri stated. "But we also now realize that just sharing knowledge is not enough. We need to go the 'final mile' in making people change their behavior. We incorrectly thought that people would look at the evidence and say 'Voila!' I need to change behavior. Nowhere has this naive approach been more underscored than in the inadequacy of action around climate change. Agencies that are implementing GCF-funded projects should think about encouraging action that is both positive and long-lasting. Transformational change only occurs if it takes place at the grassroots."
Reeling in the Years of CO2
Yet, to know that the US created the Electric Model Ts in 1906 that were soon squashed by the oil barons—and now after 112 years of abusing our planet with gas and diesel vehicles—it is absolutely insane we are on the brink of unimaginable consequences with a gossamer window of precious time to cool Mother Earth who's been running a rising fever for decades.
Fortunately, the GCF has created a savvy structure that we all need to pay attention to as this enlightened body of committed and scrupulous global citizens has designed a path of resilience for the poorest and most vulnerable nations that are at a high risk of extinction through no fault of their own. Nevertheless, when accepting funding, these recipient nations are mandated to reduce their very minimal CO2 emissions while the current US Administration is in retrograde preaching a denial doctrine that projects the world's richest nation as being completely isolated sulking in its insipid ignorance within its shallow and crumbling house-of-corrupt-cards.
Drawing attention to a sense of climate despair with the general U.S. population, a professor at the University of Alaska, Elizabeth Arnold, summarized it this way: "The threats posed to humans, polar bears and entire ecosystems are recounted on a daily basis, leading to what researchers call a 'hope gap.' With little offered in the way of action, people eventually tune out: 'We're doomed. What's on Hulu?,' Arnold succinctly wrote in an Op-ed in the Los Angeles Times.
The GCF is flipping that narrative and orchestrating a climate backbone of resilience with 130 mostly underdeveloped nations by dispensing significant funding and tangible hope that we can survive this if we all pull together to drastically reduce our CO2 emissions. Along with the GCF, the State of California is also showing the way. With its new mandate for all new homes to be constructed with solar panels, Jerry Brown, the Governor of California, is hosting its upcoming Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco on September 12-14 with two of its five challenge areas being "Transformative Climate Investments" and "Sustainable Communities." These initiatives are so synergistic with the GCF, the established leader in this arena.
Right now, we have this golden opportunity to get people's heads out of their smart-ass phones; shake their bones; steer them away from their narcissistic "journeys" and implore an all-in, balls-out global collaboration by supporting and expanding the brilliant models being developed by the GCF for making those considered least, those considered most for building climate resilience. And maybe, instead of searching for the newest, needless app—or snarking on a trendy social meme—we can start closing that "hope gap" in the developed world as well and get to the serious business of preserving our planet.
Author of Be A Global Force Of One! and a co-author of Chicken Soup For the Volunteer's Soul, John T. Boal is a national accounts director for a New York-based nonprofit and resides in Burbank, California.
Reposted with permission from our media associate The Environmental Magazine.
By Kang-Chun Cheng
Modoc County lies in the far northeast corner of California, and most of its 10,000 residents rely on cattle herding, logging, or government jobs for employment. Rodeos and 4-H programs fill most families' calendars; massive belt buckles, blue jeans, and cowboy hats are common attire. Modoc's niche brand of American individualism stems from a free-spirited cowboy culture that imbues the local ranching conflict with wild horses.
The History of Horse Management<p>Before the 1950s, feral horses were largely unregulated in the U.S. They were released, grazed, captured, killed, sold, and otherwise <a href="http://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/WHB-Report-2020-NewCover-051920-508.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">managed by local inhabitants</a> as they saw fit. Around that time, Velma Bronn Johnston, aka "Wild Horse Annie," started raising public awareness of the "perceived inhumane capture and treatment of free-ranging herds."</p><p>Thanks in part to Johnston's efforts, the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was signed into law by President Nixon in 1971. It declared that the animals "shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this, they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands."</p><p><a href="http://science.sciencemag.org/content/341/6148/847.full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This act</a> has been amended four times since its conception to accommodate the fluctuating opinions and conditions around maintaining a "thriving natural ecological balance on the public lands"—an admirable although highly subjective goal. Achieving it involves juggling competing interests: those of local residents, permanent grazers, hunters and fishers, advocacy groups, conservationists, and Indigenous tribes.</p><p>The Bureau of Land Management must manage these many conflicting interests. Modoc County's <a href="https://www.fs.fed.us/wild-horse-burro/territories/DevilsGardenPlateau.shtml" target="_blank">Devil's Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory</a> epitomizes the challenges of this task. Officially deemed wild horse territory, the garden consists of 258,000 acres and is wholly within permitted livestock allotments. It is also home to wildlife such as cougar, antelope, migratory birds, and aquatic species dependent on delicate high-desert riparian areas.</p><p>The presence of wild horses has been shown to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S014019631530094X" target="_blank">decrease native wildlife species diversity</a> for both birds and mammals. Pronghorn antelope are an icon in Western grasslands, known for their annual 350-mile migration along historic routes estimated to be 5,800 years old. This awe-inspiring trek is one of the longest large-mammal migration corridors remaining in North America, but 75% of <a href="http://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2004.00548.x" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pronghorn migration routes</a> have already been lost because of disturbances from the accelerated leasing of public lands and energy development. Horses also affect the pronghorn's yearly migrations by <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S014019631630218X" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">monopolizing watering holes</a>, thus preventing native species from drinking.</p>
Indigenous Support for Ecological Balance<p>Ken Sandusky, a public information officer who has worked for the Forest Service in Modoc County for 13 years, lives by his station's mission statement: "Caring for the Land and Serving People." In his work, Sandusky aims to include the broad range of stakeholders and often acts as a tribal liaison. Sandusky himself is a member of the Choctaw tribe of Oklahoma, but as a Modoc native, is more culturally in touch with the local Klamath tribe.</p><p>When it comes to rangeland health, he says, there's a tangible split in what that actually means. "It depends on what you are measuring the outcome against," Sandusky explains. Range managers may perceive progress from a year-to-year basis, but to many Indigenous tribes, the baseline for "progress" goes back generations, to pre-contact times. "They have long memories," he says. "Tribes see damage that is a hundred-plus years in the making."</p>
A Willingness to Try New Things<p>"Americans don't know what's happening on these lands," says Suzanne Roy, the executive director of the American Wild Horse Campaign, an advocacy organization. The Bureau of Land Management, she says, "is run by and for the livestock industry. They come from a ranching background. The term 'rangeland' management itself illustrates how livestock management is the dominant perspective."</p><p>Roy is particularly concerned about how resources are being allocated: "Policies of land management agencies don't reflect the desires and interests of the public." To illustrate, most Americans associate public lands with national parks and environmental conservation; only 29% of respondents to a recent poll considered livestock grazing an acceptable use of those lands.</p><p>Grazing on public lands certainly aligns with the financial interests of cattle ranchers and helps explain why they insist on increased wild horse management. Cattle can <a href="http://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RS21232.pdf" target="_blank">graze on public lands</a> for $1.35 per animal per month, while grazing on comparable private land costs ranchers $23 per animal per month (American taxpayer dollars make up the difference). To be fair, though, small-scale ranching would not be viable without public lands.</p><p>The campaign hopes to work toward more equitable resource allocation and improvements to overall habitats for horses and wildlife generally. "There are workable solutions to this issue," Roy says. "Common pushback from rangers is that new conservation strategies will 'destroy our way of life,' but change doesn't have to be bad."</p><p>The <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0362331994900264" target="_blank">social conservatism</a> intrinsic to human cultures makes change seem daunting and people reluctant to try new tactics even in the face of suboptimal systems. Roy uses a case in adjacent Marin County to illustrate: Until 2001, the county ran a USDA program focused on killing apex predators (e.g. coyotes, mountain lions, and cougars) in defense of livestock. Unfortunately, this strategy fails to take into account the science of predators. Killing one mountain lion, for example, creates a vacuum and will eventually lead to increased competition for this newly available territory. In 2001, Marin introduced a country-run program that promoted nonlethal methods such as fox lights, guard dogs, and fladry to deal with predator incidents while compensating ranchers for sheep and lambs lost to predation.</p><p>Ranchers were initially livid, concerned that bans on shooting and trapping hindered their rights, making them defenseless against livestock predation. But 15 years later, a majority agreed that this form of humane <a href="http://www.projectcoyote.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Camilla-Fox-Thesis-FINAL-January-2008.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">adaptive management </a>has successfully reduced both livestock losses and the total number of predators. Ensuring its continued success, the program requires active participation on behalf of all stakeholders and long-term commitment from the local government for support.</p><p>As one fifth-generation sheepherder, Gowan Batiste, explained in an interview to the <a href="https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/mendocino-county-rancher-and-others-calling-for-non-lethal-wildlife-management/ar-BB16CJ8g" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ukiah Daily Journal,</a> "Livestock is a food of desperation for predators; the more you harass them and make life difficult for them, the more likely they are going to come into conflict with humans."</p>
Keeping Wild Horses in Check<p>When it comes to wild horses, many solutions are already in the works. Through annual autumn wild horse roundups, known as gathers, the Double Devil Wild Horse Corrals has become one of the U.S.'s most successful adoption sites. The California Cattlemen's Association, a nonprofit trade association and organization popular among ranchers in Modoc, urges its members to support the wild horse gathers in Devils Garden, saying they are humane, good for the horses themselves (since competition for scarce water and forage resources may instigate aggression and <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/j.1439-0310.1981.tb01930.x" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">herd violence</a>), and necessary to support local ranchers and Modoc's agriculture-reliant economy.</p><p>Another popular solution for controlling wild horse populations is a fertility-control vaccine called PZP, given to female horses on the range <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ur7w3UPTCsk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">using dart guns</a>. Mares are tracked on foot or with game cameras while drones are used to locate more elusive herds. The PZP vaccine has been endorsed by the American Wild Horse Campaign as the "<a href="https://americanwildhorsecampaign.org/fertility-control" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">most promising strategy</a>" for managing wild horses in their habitats and is also recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. Importantly, a dose of the vaccine only costs $30.</p><p>Lastly, land acquisition and <a href="https://americanwildhorsecampaign.org/equitable-share-resources" target="_blank">grazing lease buyouts</a> can promote equitable sharing of public lands and available forage. Acquiring key pieces of land adjacent to or within federally designated wild horse habitat areas can reduce conflicts over resource allocation.</p>
A Global Search for Solutions<p>Pastoralists all over the world face similar land-use conflicts, despite huge variations in climate and culture. The ongoing situation across rural California resonates with that of Fulani cattle herders in Niger and Sami reindeer herders in the Arctic.</p><p>Herders everywhere are accused of having too many animals or are perceived as selfish and irresponsible by their own communities. Overgrazing is certainly an issue, but it's not simply the number of animals that matters: The <a href="https://savory.global/holistic-management/" target="_blank">amount of time</a> animals spend in a certain area is critical to rangeland health. And in the context of such allegations, the ecological value of grazing is frequently omitted. Grazers, both wild and domestic, <a href="https://www.yesmagazine.org/issue/food-everyone/2019/02/04/restoring-the-range-can-beef-be-earth-friendly/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">are key to regulating soil health and allowing for species diversity and coverage, </a>as well as efficient carbon sequestration.</p><p>Part of the problem in these heated grazing debates is that moderate viewpoints are drowned out by extremist agendas—those who prioritize wild horse populations at all costs and those who want all of the horses gone, period. "The majority of people don't really have strong views about the horses," Sandusky says. "But the ones who do can get really into it." These unwavering views make it difficult to find compromises that account for all stakeholders.</p><p>"There is no biological problem, merely a social one," says professor Nicholas Tyler, a pastoralism expert at the University of Tromsø in northern Norway. Tyler maintains that in the case of horses and cattle in the West, as with so many others, the so-called equilibria argument is specious and quasi-biological. "Certainly a lot of horses will influence the species composition," he says. "Remove the horses, things change. Add horses, things change again. There is nothing magical about that."</p><p>But Tyler takes it one step further: "There never was, is, or will be a balance. There are shifting equilibria, which is something quite different," he says. "It is up to the community to decide which state of that equilibrium it prefers."</p>
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By Victoria Masterson
Using one of the world's problems to solve another is the philosophy behind a Norwegian start-up's mission to develop affordable housing from 100% recycled plastic.
Sustainable Homes<p>UN-Habitat says an <a href="https://unhabitat.org/un-habitat-aims-to-use-plastic-waste-to-support-housing-for-all" target="_blank">estimated 60% of people living in urban areas of Africa are in informal settlements</a>. At the same time, between 1990 and 2017, African countries imported around 230 metric tonnes of plastic, "which mostly ended up in dump sites creating a massive environmental challenge," the agency adds.</p><p>UN-Habitat deputy executive director, Victor Kisob, said the aim of the partnership with Othalo was to "promote adequate, sustainable and affordable housing for all."</p>
Artist's impression of an Othalo community, imagined by architect Julien De Smedt. Othalo<p>Othalo's process involves shredding plastic waste and mixing it with other elements, including non-flammable materials. Components are used to build up to four floors, with a home of 60 square metres using eight tons of recycled plastic. A factory with one production line can produce 2,800 housing units annually.</p><p>Following successful laboratory tests, Othalo's factory in Estonia has started producing components to build three demonstration homes for Kenya's capital, Nairobi; Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon and Dakar, the capital of Senegal.</p><p>Othalo founder Frank Cato Lahti has been developing and testing the technology since 2016 in partnership with <a href="https://www.sintef.no/en/" target="_blank">SINTEF</a>, a 70-year-old independent research organization in Trondheim, Norway, and experts at Norway's <a href="https://en.uit.no/startsida" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">University of Tromsø</a>.</p>
Othalo founder Frank Cato Lahti. Othalo<p>Almost <a href="https://www.un.org/development/desa/publications/2018-revision-of-world-urbanization-prospects.html" target="_blank">seven out of every 10 people in the world are expected to live in urban areas by 2050</a>. More than 90% of this growth will take place in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.</p><p>"In the absence of effective urban planning, the consequences of this rapid urbanization will be dramatic," UN-Habitat warns.</p><p>Lack of proper housing and growth of slums, inadequate and outdated infrastructure, escalating poverty and unemployment, and pollution and health issues, are just some of the effects.</p><p>Mindsets, policies, and approaches towards urbanization need to change for the growth of cities and urban areas to be turned into opportunities that will leave nobody behind, UN-Habitat says.</p>
Pioneers of Change<p>Reimagining cities and communities for greater resilience and sustainability was a key topic at the<a href="https://www.weforum.org/events/pioneers-of-change-summit-2020" target="_blank"> World Economic Forum's Pioneers of Change Summit 2020</a>.</p><p>The digital event brought together innovators and stakeholders from around the world to explore solutions to the challenges facing enterprises, governments and society.</p><p>Opening the summit, <a href="https://www.weforum.org/events/pioneers-of-change-summit-2020/sessions/opening-plenary-8f731cbc65" target="_blank">Stephan Mergenthaler, the Forum's Head of Strategic Intelligence and a member of the Executive Committee</a>, said: "We need to change the way we produce, the way we live and interact in our cities to make this transition to net-zero emissions a reality…</p><p>"And as this year has illustrated so dramatically, we need to make every effort that we keep populations healthy, if we want to avoid jeopardizing all this progress."</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/11/un-africa-recycled-plastic-housing/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649069252#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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