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September 21, 2014
NGOs Express Concern that Climate Summit Could be Hijacked
    by Robert Kropp

An extensive network of nongovernmental organizations write to the UN Secretary-General arguing that private investment is not a replacement for public funds, while a campaign by the Indigenous Environmental Network warns against influence of corporations in the upcoming Climate Summit. Second in a two-part series.

Institutional investors operate under strict regulations pertaining to fiduciary duty, and the sustainable contingent among them has always argued that the lack of meaningful government action on climate change restrains the ability to move more investment into clean energy. But the concept of fiduciary duty appears to be undergoing an evolution of sorts, and the establishment by four global investor groups on climate change of a Low Carbon Investment (LCI) Registry, which provides examples of global low carbon investments made by institutional investors, can be construed as an acknowledgment that investors themselves could be doing more to help usher in a low carbon economy.

However, in the event that world leaders meeting at a Climate Summit at the United Nations in New York this week look to private investment as an excuse not to meet their overarching responsibilities, a group of well over 100 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) wro te to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week, urging him to ensure that private finance is not counted as international climate finance.

“The provision of $100 billion annually by 2020 is a legal and ethical obligation of developed countries,” the letter states, referring to agreements arrived at in Copenhagen in 2009. “It must be public and grant-based, and the deployment of funds must be driven entirely by the adaptation and mitigation needs of developing countries. We urge you to make this wholly clear at the Climate Summit. An emphasis on private finance must not provide cover for the lack of political will to mobilize public funds by rich countries.”

Signatories to the letter to the Secretary-General also voiced concerns about the Green Bond Principles (GBP), a set of voluntary guidelines for financial institutions that issue so-called green bonds. “These principles fall far short of
what is needed,” the letter states.

“Even the coal industry is asking at its next Coaltrans World Coal Conference whether green bonds can be a ‘new frontier for the industry,’” said Ryan Brightwell of BankTrack, a signatory to the letter.

Social movements claiming to represent more than 200 million of the world's poorest people are far more harsh in their appraisal of the Climate Summit, denouncing what they perceive as “the corporate take-over” of it. In a statement, more than 330 organizations “call for systemic change rather than the voluntary pledges and market-based and destructive public-private partnership initiatives that currently feature on the Summit’s agenda, like REDD+ Climate-Smart Agriculture and the Sustainable Energy for All initiative,” according to a press release.

“We need to resist the ‘greening of capital’ as the solution,” the signatories state. “We require a new system that addresses the needs of the majority and not of the few.”

“Climate change negotiations are being dominated by irresponsible states, polluters and corporations that only care about current operations and the furtherance of profits through more fossil fuel exploitation, new carbon markets and other false solutions like industrial bioenergy that are destroying forests, soils, wetlands, rivers, mangroves and oceans,” states Genevieve Azam of ATTAC France.

And Carlos Marentes of Border Agricultural Workers said that the Climate Summit “fails to recognize that climate change is the result of an unjust economic system that is in the business of pursuing endless growth, concentrating wealth in the hands of a few and over-exploiting nature to the point of collapse.”


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