In a further setback to the battle against climate change, reports suggest that contributions to the United Nations programme Green Climate Fund (GCF) has been inadequate and far short of the pledged amount. Of the $10.3 billion pledged, only $3.5 billion has been committed so far, severely jeopardising efforts in developing countries to mitigate the worst effects of global warming.

The GCF, the world’s largest international climate fund, was set up in 2010 by the 194 countries who are parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The objective was to support funding requirements that were needed by developing countries to prepare for climate change-induced disasters and move towards clean energy and away from fossil fuels. The idea was to put together $100 billion a year through a combination of government contributions and private investments.

This mostly one-way contribution – from developed to developing countries – is a result of the argument that since the former benefited from a non-warming world and their wealth is driven by fossil fuels and are therefore primarily responsible for the climate catastrophe, they ought to be compensating poor countries who contribute very little to global carbon emissions.

Last year, US President Donald Trump cancelled $2 billion in promised aid to the fund. Other developed countries have been evasive about keeping the overall funding commitments. This greatly endangers the developing world’s efforts to adapt to a warming planet, especially since studies have shown that regions such as Southeast Asia are at the highest risk of climate-change disasters. Many such countries have reiterated that without international funding assistance they will not be able to reach their Paris Agreement targets.

GCF’s activities are aligned with the priorities of developing countries, with national and sub-national organizations receiving funding directly, rather than only through international intermediaries. Some criticism has been levied at the workings of the GCF. For instance, the projects are said to be ‘underwhelming’ instead of transformational, or have questionable approaches, such as the clean cooking programme in Bangladesh that apparently was more focused on the distributors of cooked stoves rather than the beneficiaries themselves. Disbursal is also an issue; as of December 2017, the fund had only released approximately $150 million, or less than 6 per cent of the nearly $3 billion it had committed up to that point.