Mammoth new green climate fund wants United Nations-style diplomatic immunity, even though it’s not part of the UN
By George Russell
March 22, 2012
EXCLUSIVE: The Green Climate Fund, which is supposed to help mobilize as much as $100 billion a year to lower global greenhouse gases, is seeking a broad blanket of U.N.-style immunity that would shield its operations from any kind of legal process, including civil and criminal prosecution, in the countries where it operates. There’s just one problem: it is not part of the United Nations.
Whether the fund, which was formally created at a U.N. climate conference in Durban, South Africa last December, will get all the money it wants to spend is open to question in an era of economic slowdown and fiscal austerity. Its spending goal comes atop some $30 billion in “fast start-up” money that has been pledged by U.N. member states to such climate change activities.
A 24-nation interim board of trustees for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) is slated to hold its first meeting next month in Switzerland to organize the fund’s secretariat and to get it running by November, as well as find a permanent home for the GCF’s operations. The board expects to spend about $6.7 million between now and June of next year.
But before it is fully operational, the GCF’s creators—194 countries that belong to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and who are also U.N. members—want it to be immune from legal challenges and lawsuits, not to mention outside inspections, much like the United Nations itself cannot be affected by decisions rendered by a sovereign nation’s government or judicial system.
Despite its name, the UNFCCC was informed in 2006 by the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs that it was not considered a U.N. “organ,” and therefore could not claim immunity for its subordinate bodies or personnel under the General Convention that has authorized U.N. immunity since the end of World War II.
A UNFCCC resolution granting similar immunities would need to be “accepted, approved or ratified” by each individual member of the Kyoto Protocol before it took effect, the U.N. legal office advised. Even if UNFCCC members decided to ask the U.N. General Assembly to grant them similar immunity it would require each U.N. member state to make changes in domestic legislation, the opinion declared.
The immunity that the UNFCCC wants also governs where the Green Climate Fund can make its home. Among other things, the GCF board is charged to consider whether any would-be hosts have “the ability to provide privileges and immunities to the Fund as are necessary for the fulfillment of its purposes, and to the officials of the Fund as are necessary for the independent exercise of their official functions.”
In other words, without offering immunity, you cannot host the Green Climate Fund.
Countries interested in hosting the Green Climate Fund have until April 15 to let the board know. The U.S. is not considered likely to be one of them.
**Emphasis and italicization added***
While reading the above, the visualizations of George Soros, Maurice Strong, Al Gore, Hillary and Bill Clinton and Van Jones might be somewhat tied to this proved intriguing.
**Compare what you read above to the recommendations of the CAP***
(The Shadow Party created by George Soros, Hillary Clinton and Harold Ickes? )
***Van Jones is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress**
Making the Green Climate Fund a Reality
A Durban Push Could Launch Tool to Help Developing Countries Respond to Global Warming
The Green Climate Fund is part of the pledge made in the Cancun, Mexico, U.N. climate summit agreements to mobilize $100 billion annually by 2020 for climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts in developing countries, which are the most vulnerable to climate impacts in the years to come. While the fund itself is not tasked with mobilizing all of this financing, it will be a key component of those efforts.
Signs the fund will come together are also good news for those observing the evolution of the United States’ negotiating position at the summit in the past two weeks. The United States approved the agreement at the Cancun summit last year to create the fund, but its confidence in the fund was in question recently.
In Cancun an official “Transition Committee” of 40 countries was created to meet over the course of the past year to create an implementing document to make the fund a reality. The “TC,” as it came to be called, met four times, with the last meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, in mid-October. At that meeting the United States dissented in the final hours with the other members of the TC and, along with Saudi Arabia, withheld its consent to the implementing document.
Because this U.N. process operates under a de facto consensus process, many parties were concerned that the failure of the TC to come to consensus in Cape Town would mean disaster in Durban. The co-chairs of the TC believed that if the TC came to consensus in Cape Town, then the 194 parties in the full U.N. meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change would simply adopt the document and establish the Green Climate Fund.
But without consensus among the TC, many experts thought that this could lead to an outcome where the TC’s work would be put in jeopardy as other parties picked over the draft until it was changed so dramatically that agreement was no longer possible. Still, hoping for the best, the co-chairs of the TC sent their draft implementing document on to the UNFCCC. With the work of the TC done, it is now up to parties to the UNFCCC to approve the GCF in Durban in the final hours of this meeting.
While a few questions remain, it now looks like the United States is getting closer to approving the Green Climate Fund. In his press conference on December 8 in Durban, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern said he was “confident” that despite lingering questions, the fund would get done.
The United States said in Cape Town that they were concerned both about the UNFCCC’s authority over the governing board of the fund, and the ability of the fund to engage and mobilize private finance. The United States has been clear that it does not want to create a fund that is controlled by climate negotiators rather than finance experts, and it wants to ensure that these finance experts have free reign to attract as much private capital as possible with limited public resources. But we argue that the current draft document is sufficient to overcome these concerns.
Over the last two years, CAP has talked with clean energy companies, global investors, international development advocates, and environmental leaders about the new fund. Our research finds that a successful Green Climate Fund will have several characteristics, including the following:
The fund’s management will have independence from the UNFCCC bureaucracy to make the most cost-effective funding decisions.
The fund will be specifically designed to attract large amounts of private capital.
The fund will have a variety of financial tools to provide targeted supports that meet the specific needs of each funding recipient.
The fund will have a trustee capable of managing billions of dollars in accordance with the strongest possible accounting standards.
The fund will make both adaptation and mitigation funding available.
The fund will consider gender balance, including in the composition of the board and designing projects.
The fund will be performance-based and data-driven.
Our conclusion is that there is no way a fund without these characteristics will play a significant and effective role in mobilizing $100 billion per year by 2020 for climate adaptation and mitigation, the goal agreed to by parties at the 2009 UNFCCC meeting in Copenhagen. If the fund has to seek approval from the revolving set of climate negotiators that make up the UNFCCC meetings from year to year to use a limited set of tools—just grants for adaptation projects, for example—to disburse money that only comes in from public sources—primarily donations from developed countries like the United States—it simply will not work. A fund that worked like this would be a wasted opportunity.
Fortunately, though, the draft text of the fund describes an institution that does not have to work like this. The proposal creates a fund where independent management can use a wide variety of tools to attract both public and private capital, and can use that capital to finance both adaptation and mitigation projects.
In fact, the proposed fund meets all of the criteria for it to be a success. The proposal is an exciting opportunity to build a fund that will mobilize large amounts of capital to help the world avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change. For reasons discussed below, we are optimistic that the fund will be successful if the negotiators in Durban allow it to move forward.
First, the proposed fund creates a management system that insulates decision-making from the cumbersome U.N. bureaucracy. It does this by creating a board, and then putting the board in charge of appointing a secretariat, who is tasked with the day-to-day operations of the fund. While the UNFCCC is technically in charge of the board, they have not built in tools that you would expect to see from an organization that expected to exercise significant control over the board or the fund’s operations. The proposal, for example, does not have a procedure for removing someone from the board, nor does it list specific decisions that have to come before the UNFCCC.
Second, the proposed fund can help draw private capital into international climate finance. Not only is the board specifically authorized to create “instruments or facilities” beyond just grants and low-interest loans, but the proposal also clearly states that “The Fund will seek to catalyze additional public and private finance through its activities.” CAP has previously proposed financial instruments such as policy insurance, loan guarantees, and equity investments that will attract private investors to this market, and we are glad to see that the proposed fund would allow those tools.
Third, the new tools the board creates are not just useful for bringing in private capital but are also good ways for the fund to use public money efficiently. Consider a renewable energy project: If the project will bring in money by selling power, it may be able to pay money back to its funders. In this case, the fund could be better off by providing a loan to the project instead of a grant. This is a simplified example that shows how having a variety of tools at its disposal can help the fund get the most bang for its buck.
Fourth, the fund will be working with billions of dollars every year, and it has selected a trustee that will be able to manage that money competently. The World Bank—whom the proposal names as the trustee for the first three years of the fund—has the relevant expertise to fill this role. Then the fund will be able to select a new trustee, which will allow commercial banks to bid on providing this service.
Finally, every aspect of the proposed fund is designed to meet the needs of both adaptation and mitigation investments. The board will ultimately decide how much money is directed toward each type of project, but the proposal instructs them to make these decisions using a “results-based approach.” That is, the fund must be used cost effectively.
Looking Beyond the U.N. to Fight Climate Change
Is THIS related to the above? Is the Green Climate Fund the means to fund DICED?
DICED: Agenda 21 on Steroids. What Americans Should Know about Global Socialism Right Under Our Noses. Is Obama Complicit or Just Following Marching Orders from the Shadow Party?
The Green Climate Fund not part of the UN? Then WHERE does it get its central orders and funding?
WHAT is the Center for American Progress’ role in this? Did they submit the policy and groundwork for the Green Climate Fund?
Disgraced former Obama “green jobs czar” Van Jones made an appearance in Hawaii last night in which he ripped on the “American fantasy” and called for socialistic approaches to wealth redistribution, while castigating Obama opponents as America-haters.