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December 19, 2013
Index Ranks Climate Change Preparedness of Nations
    by Robert Kropp

The annual Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index finds that the world's poorest countries are more than a century behind their developed nation counterparts in adapting to climate change.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF), originally established during the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Copenhagen in 2009, finally launched its headquarters in Korea earlier this month. According to the Fund, its purpose is to promote, within the context of sustainable development, the paradigm shift towards low emission and climate resilient development pathways by providing support to developing countries to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

At the launch, Jose Maria Sarte Salceda, the GCF Co-Chair, said, “In the Philippines, we have recently experienced in a painful manner why it is so urgent to act on climate change. I am, therefore, pleased that the Fund is on track to start its resource mobilization next year with a rapid and substantial initial capitalization, so that we can get the money flowing to the countries which are in greatest need.”

“Now we need the support of the international community so that we can mitigate climate change and adapt to its adverse impacts,” he continued.

At this point, however, the launch of the Fund—the intent of which is to have developed nations provide $100 billion in assistance by 2020 to climate change adaptation by developing nations—remains largely symbolic, as contributions are falling far short of what the original agreement calls for.

“Rich nations promised in 2010 to provide $10 billion per year in fast-start climate finance over 2011 to 2013, and scale funding up to $100 billion annually by 2020,” Reuters reported. “But inflows have fallen far short of expected levels, with new finance even dropping by more than two-thirds in 2013 from 2012.”

“Now the Fund has just $40 million at its disposal, a sum promised by South Korea that must also cover administrative expenses.”

The urgency was highlighted last week by the publication of the annual Un iversity of Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN). “It will take the world’s poorest countries more than one century just to reach the level of climate change readiness that the richest countries already enjoy,” the Index concluded.

“We knew that there were disparities between the richest and poorest countries when it comes to climate change adaptation and readiness,” said Associate Professor Jessica Hellmann, who leads Notre Dame’s climate change adaptation program. “But we did not realize that it would take more than 100 years for the poorest countries just to reach the readiness levels that the richest countries have already attained.”

Climate change adaptation is growing more resilient, the Index found, but advances are not occurring at nearly the rate needed. “These data are sobering because they cast light on just how unprepared some of the most vulnerable nations really are,” Hellmann said. “But they also show that the most developed countries are not doing enough either, which raises serious public policy questions no matter how well-developed a national economy may be.”

At ND-GAIN's annual meeting last week, Advisory Board Member Kenneth Hersh of NGP Energy Capital Management stated, “Public funds will not cover the entire cost of adaption to the extent needed. The public sector can provide the commitment and the frameworks to mobilize and enable the private sector to invest where they are wanted, needed, and can make a return on investment.”

But as a result of inaction thus far by developed nations on climate finance, some of the largest developing nations are resisting calls for emissions reduction targets until developed nations deliver on their promises.

"What is wrong with the Global Climate Fund is that there is no money there," Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan said during last month's climate change conference in Warsaw.


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