Today, the U.S. delivered $500m to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). An important step in the right direction, the American Security Project (ASP) has supported funding within Congress and the Administration for years as a critical national security measure. This is the second installment of U.S. funding to the GCF. The next Administration should continue to fully fund the American commitment to the GCF.
Funding the GCF will reduce climate vulnerabilities and increase the resources that partner countries can devote to deploying cleaner energy technologies. This is a smart, cost-effective ways to integrate our foreign policy, energy security, and national security goals.
The US has pledged a total $3 billion investment in the Green Climate Fund. This $500 million investment is cost-effective because it will address the threats presented by climate change before American troops have to be deployed. This investment is a continuation of American leadership: in 2008, the Bush Administration gave $2 billion of a worldwide $8 billion investment in the Climate Investment Fund, a predecessor to this fund.
The GCF was created in 2009 at the Copenhagen COP15 meeting in order to address climate threats and help push forward clean energy. The fund assists poor and climate-vulnerable countries build their resilience to current and future climatic threats while also encouraging the use of cleaner energy. The GCF considers projects that would both increase resilience and reduce emissions in poor countries. As a board member, the U.S. has an important voice in making these decisions. Each project is designed specifically to meet the needs of each country, whether it’s building resilience to disasters, transitioning energy sources or reforesting large swaths of land. Eight projects have already been approved and the additional 22 projects will be voted on sometime this year.
With a goal of providing $10.3 billion in total, the fund still has a long way to go, but the importance of combating climate change, and specifically the GCF, cannot be stressed enough. It is a vital component for maintaining the safety and security of the U.S. and the global community. As one of the primary contributors to climate change the U.S. has a responsibility to contribute to this fund, in addition to a strategic interest. As we have seen in recent years, climate change has the power to amplify existing threats and leave countries prone to instability and conflict. Without funding, countries are more likely to fall into a cycle of insecurity and climate change aggravating preexisting conflicts, while also hindering their ability to respond and prepare for future threats.
For example, while many factors contributed to the start of the current Syrian civil war, drought was a major contributor, causing rapid urbanization and subsequent spikes in food prices. There are clear security ramifications of such wars becoming more and more common. Instability provides an oasis for terrorist organizations and can have a serious impact on the development of the country and the entire region. Further funding for the Green Climate Fund does not solve this problem but it begins to address the needs of those countries most vulnerable.
The American Security Project has been a key supporter of GCF since its beginning. ASP’s CEO BGen. Cheney and Director of Studies Andrew Holland wrote a comprehensive op-ed in The Hill in November 2014, highlighting the importance of GCF in combating the threats from climate change “before troops are deployed.” The Green Climate Fund is an opportunity to prevent the looming threats before they occur and needs the U.S.’ support in order to succeed.