The Paris climate change agreement's Green Climate Fund is fast becoming a circus sideshow dominated by large development banks that is undermining its original intent, said environmental groups in a study released Tuesday.
"The Green Climate Fund risks becoming a sideshow to big development banks and other multilateral institutions unless it rapidly changes course," according to Friends of the Earth U.S. and the Institute for Policy Studies.
The fund was one of the major reasons cited by President Trump when he announced his decision in June to withdraw from the 2015 Paris deal that former President Barack Obama had signed onto. Obama sent $1 million to the fund before Trump was sworn into office.
The goal of the fund is to collect at least $100 billion per year by 2020 from industrial nations to help small countries deal with the effects of climate change. But now it's missing its goals with "mixed results" in its "ability to meet the climate adaptation and mitigation needs of developing countries," according to the study's summary.
Only 27 percent of the funds have been allocated to climate adaptation strategies, which include drought and flooding management projects. That is "well short of its 50 percent goal," according to the study.
The environmental groups are concerned that the fund's independent nature is being swallowed up by the World Bank and other large global financial institutions, which they fear will undermine its focus on climate finance projects, especially for the most disadvantaged communities.
"The Green Climate Fund must do better to meet developing countries' needs as they face the climate crisis, especially when it comes to the most vulnerable communities," said Karen Orenstein, deputy director of economic policy at Friends of the Earth's U.S. chapter. "If the [fund's] board puts science, justice and the needs of ordinary folks at the center of its approach, the GCF could still be the fund that so many of us fought for."
The groups released the report ahead of the green fund's board meeting in Cairo Sept. 30-Oct. 2.
"The Green Climate Fund was supposed to learn from the failures of big development institutions like the World Bank, not channel most of its funds through them," said Oscar Reyes of Institute for Policy Studies. "There's plenty of evidence that devolved decision-making is the best way to meet the needs of vulnerable communities at the front lines of climate change. The GCF has already supported some excellent ‘direct access' projects, but these should become the rule, not the exception."
The Green Climate Fund website references many of the large development banks as partners with the fund. The European Investment Bank, for example, is described as supportive of the fund's goals in tackling climate change, with 25 percent of its portfolio being used to target climate projects.