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.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
More than 350 elephants have died in Botswana since May, and no one knows why.
- Botswana Auctions Off First Licenses to Kill Elephants Since Ending ... ›
- 'Heartbreaking' Vulture Poisoning in South Africa Raises Alarm ... ›
The chance that UK summer days could hit the 40 degree Celsius mark on the thermometer is on the rise, a new study from the country's Met Office Hadley Centre has found.
- As Extreme Weather Turns Deadly in the UK, Climate Activists Are ... ›
- UK Parliament First in World to Declare Climate Emergency ... ›
By Melissa Hawkins
After sustained declines in the number of COVID-19 cases over recent months, restrictions are starting to ease across the United States. Numbers of new cases are falling or stable at low numbers in some states, but they are surging in many others. Overall, the U.S. is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of new cases a day, and by late June, had surpassed the peak rate of spread in early April.
Seven day rolling average of number of people confirmed to have COVID-19, per day (not including today). This chart gets updated once per day with data by Johns Hopkins. Johns Hopkins university doesn't provide reliable data for March 12 and March 13. Johns Hopkins CSSE Get the data
To Have a Second Wave, the First Wave Needs to End.<p>A wave of an infection describes a large rise and fall in the number of cases. There isn't a precise epidemiological definition of when a wave begins or ends.</p><p>But with talk of a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/27/new-covid-19-clusters-across-world-spark-fear-of-second-wave" target="_blank">second wave in the news</a>, as an <a href="https://www.american.edu/cas/faculty/mhawkins.cfm" target="_blank">epidemiologist and public health researcher</a>, I think there are two necessary factors that must be met before we can colloquially declare a second wave.</p><p>First, the virus would have to be controlled and transmission brought down to a very low level. That would be the end of the first wave. Then, the virus would need to reappear and result in a large increase in cases and hospitalizations.</p><p>Many countries in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-0908-8" target="_blank">Europe and Asia have successfully ended the first wave</a>. <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/08/new-zealand-abandons-covid-19-restrictions-after-nation-declared-no-cases" target="_blank">New Zealand</a> and <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/06/08/how-iceland-beat-the-coronavirus" target="_blank">Iceland</a> have also made it through their first waves and are now essentially coronavirus-free, with very low levels of community transmission and only a handful of active cases currently.</p>
Different States, Different Trends<p>Looking at U.S. numbers as a whole hides what is really going on. Different states are in <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html" target="_blank">vastly different situations right now</a> and when you look at states individually, four major categories emerge.</p><ol><li>Places where the first wave is ending: States in the Northeast and a few scattered elsewhere experienced large initial spikes but were able to mostly contain the virus and substantially brought down new infections. <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/new-york-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">New York</a> is a good example of this.</li><li>Places still in the first wave: Several states in the South and West – see <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/texas-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">Texas</a> and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/california-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">California</a> – had some cases early on, but are now seeing massive surges with no sign of slowing down.</li><li>Places in between: Many states were hit early in the first wave, managed to slow it down, but are either at a plateau – like <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/north-dakota-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">North Dakota</a> – or are now seeing steep increases – like <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/oklahoma-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">Oklahoma</a>.</li><li>Places experiencing local second waves: Looking only at a state level, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/hawaii-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">Hawaii</a>, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/montana-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">Montana</a> and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/alaska-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">Alaska</a> could be said to be experiencing second waves. Each state experienced relatively small initial outbreaks and was able to reduce spread to single digits of daily new confirmed cases, but are now all seeing spikes again.</li></ol><p>The trends aren't surprising based on how states have been dealing with reopening. The virus will go wherever there are susceptible people and until the U.S. stops community spread across the entire country, the first wave isn't over.</p>
What Could a Second Wave Look Like?<p>It is possible – though at this point it seems unlikely – that the U.S. could control the virus before a vaccine is developed. If that happens, it would be time to start thinking about a second wave. The question of what it might look like depends in large part on everyone's actions.</p><p>The <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1086%2F592454" target="_blank">1918 flu pandemic</a> was characterized by a mild first wave in the winter of 1917-1918 that went away in summer. After restrictions were lifted, people very quickly went back to pre-pandemic life. But a second, deadlier strain came back in fall of 1918 and third in spring of 1919. In total, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-commemoration/1918-pandemic-history.htm" target="_blank">more than 500 million people were infected</a> worldwide and upwards of <a href="https://theconversation.com/compare-the-flu-pandemic-of-1918-and-covid-19-with-caution-the-past-is-not-a-prediction-138895" target="_blank">50 million died</a> over the course of three waves.</p><p>It was the combination of a quick return to normal life and a mutation in the flu's genome that made it more deadly that led to the horrific second and third waves.</p><p>Thankfully, the coronavirus appears to be much more <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.meegid.2020.104351" target="_blank">genetically stable</a> than the influenza virus, and thus less likely to mutate into a more deadly variant. That leaves human behavior as the main risk factor.</p><p>Until a <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-needs-to-go-right-to-get-a-coronavirus-vaccine-in-12-18-months-136816" target="_blank">vaccine or effective treatment is developed</a>, the tried-and-true public health measures of the last months – <a href="https://theconversation.com/this-simple-model-shows-the-importance-of-wearing-masks-and-social-distancing-140423" target="_blank">social distancing,</a> <a href="https://theconversation.com/masks-help-stop-the-spread-of-coronavirus-the-science-is-simple-and-im-one-of-100-experts-urging-governors-to-require-public-mask-wearing-138507" target="_blank">universal mask wearing</a>, frequent hand-washing and avoiding crowded indoor spaces – are the ways to stop the first wave and thwart a second one. And when there are surges like what is happening now in the U.S., further reopening plans need to be put on hold.</p>
- U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Now No. 1 in World - EcoWatch ›
- U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Pass 100,000 - EcoWatch ›
- U.S. Coronavirus Cases Top 2 Million as All 50 States Start ... ›
By Eoin Higgins
Climate advocates pointed to news Sunday that fracking giant Chesapeake Energy was filing for bankruptcy as further evidence that the fossil fuel industry's collapse is being hastened by the coronavirus pandemic and called for the government to stop propping up businesses in the field.
- Fracking Industry's Propaganda Hypes Shale Gas Production and ... ›
- Another Blow to the Fracking Industry—Chesapeake Energy's ... ›
- Former Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon Is Back to ... ›
By Neil King and Gabriel Borrud
Human beings all over the world agreed to strict limitations to their rights when governments made the decision to enter lockdown during the COVID-19 crisis. Many have done it willingly on behalf of the collective. So why can't this same attitude be seen when tackling climate change?
- The Crunch Question on Climate: How Can I Help? - EcoWatch ›
- The Power of Collective Action Gangnam Style - EcoWatch ›
- Scientist Finds Remarkable Way to Connect People Emotionally ... ›
Fire experts have already criticized President Trump's planned fireworks event for this Friday at Mt. Rushmore National Memorial as a dangerous idea. Now, it turns out the event may be socially irresponsible too as distancing guidelines and mask wearing will not be enforced at the event, according to CNN.
- Trump's Fireworks Show at Mt. Rushmore Is a Dangerous Idea, Fire ... ›
- Attendees at Trump's First Rally Since March Can't Sue if They Get ... ›
By Emma Charlton
Gluts of food left to rot as a consequence of coronavirus aren't just wasteful – they're also likely to damage the environment.
Methane on the Rise<p>Not only is this a tragic waste of food at a time when many are going hungry, it is also an <a href="https://donatedontdump.net/2014/07/07/the-effects-of-food-waste-on-the-environment-by-junemy-pantig/" target="_blank">environmental hazard</a> and could contribute to global warming. Landfill gas – <a href="https://www.epa.gov/lmop/basic-information-about-landfill-gas" target="_blank">roughly half methane and half carbon dioxide (CO2)</a> – is a natural byproduct of the decomposition of organic material.</p>
Food decay leads to production of greenhouse gases, methane and carbon dioxide. EPA<p>Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, 28 to <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/SYR_AR5_FINAL_full.pdf" target="_blank">36 times more effective than CO2 at trapping heat</a> in the atmosphere over a 100-year period, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.</p><p>"Many export-oriented producers produce volumes far too large for output to be absorbed in local markets, and thus <a href="https://unctad.org/en/pages/newsdetails.aspx?OriginalVersionID=2333" target="_blank">organic waste levels have mounted substantially</a>," says Robert Hamwey, Economic Affairs Officer at UN agency UNCTAD. "Because this waste is left to decay, levels of methane emissions, a greenhouse gas, from decaying produce are expected to rise sharply in the crisis and immediate post-crisis months."</p>
Food supply chains are easily disrupted. UN FAO<p>Dumping food was already a problem before the crisis. In America alone, <a href="https://www.refed.com/?sort=economic-value-per-ton" target="_blank">$218 billion is spent growing, processing, transporting</a> and disposing of food that is never eaten, estimates ReFED, a collection of business, non-profit and government leaders committed to reducing food waste. That's equivalent to around 1.3% of GDP.</p><p>Since the pandemic took hold, <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-52267943" target="_blank">farmers are dumping 14 million liters</a> of milk each day because of disrupted supply routes, estimates Dairy Farmers of America. A chicken processor was forced to <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/11/business/coronavirus-destroying-food.html" target="_blank">destroy 750,000 unhatched eggs a week</a>, according to the New York Times, which also cited an onion farmer letting most of his harvest decompose because he couldn't distribute or store them.</p>
Food Prices Collapsing<p>The excess has also seen prices collapse. The <a href="http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/foodpricesindex/en/" target="_blank">FAO Food Price Index</a> (FFPI) averaged 162.5 points in May 2020, down 3.1 points from April and reaching the lowest monthly average since December 2018. The gauge has dropped for four consecutive months, and the latest decline reflects falling values of all the food commodities – dairy, meat, cereal, vegetable – except sugar, which rose for the first time in three months.</p><p>All this while the pandemic is exacerbating other global food trends.</p><p>"This year, some 49 million extra people may fall into extreme poverty due to the COVID-19 crisis," said António Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN. "The number of people who are acutely food or nutrition insecure will rapidly expand. <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGhLKAbNDiY&feature=youtu.be" target="_blank">Even in countries with abundant food, we see risks of disruptions in the food supply chain</a>."</p>
- Food Waste Set to Increase by 33 Percent Within 10 Years - EcoWatch ›
- Reducing Food Waste Is Good for Economy and Climate, Report Says ›
- 23 Organizations Eliminating Food Waste During COVID-19 ... ›