The global Green Climate Fund has been the major focus of the faith-based environmental advocacy community for the past several years. In March, the United States Congress sent $500 million to the GCF for Fiscal Year 2016, and President Obama has included funds for it in his FY 2017 budget request as part of the U.S. pledge to the fund.
The fund — which was established with the involvement of 194 governments — is a worldwide initiative to respond to climate change by providing for investment into low-emission and climate-resilient development.
Advocates assert that “Least Developed Countries,” although least responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants that are causing climate change, are most affected by its deleterious effects. Rising sea levels are posing hazards to small island states, melting glaciers are endangering the water supplies of major cities across the world, and long-term drought and other weather extremes are threatening food security and political stability in countries whose inhabitants are already struggling with poverty and hunger.
The GCF represents a new way forward in “climate finance.” Its provisions aim to boost the capability of African nations, small island states, and LDCs to limit or reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions through low-carbon development pathways and to help vulnerable societies cope with and circumvent the damaging impact of climate change. The hope is that the fund will increase political and economic stability and have a positive effect on migration and national security for at-risk populations.
According to the GCF website, “Climate change is the defining challenge of our time. The human impact on our planet is unprecedented. Long-term changes in the earth’s climate system are significant. The Green Climate Fund was established with a mission to advance the goal of keeping the temperature increase on our home planet below 2 degrees Celsius…. Given the urgency and seriousness of the challenge, the Fund is mandated to make an ambitious contribution to the united global response to climate change.”
The United States is a leader in this mission, with more than $10 billion in funding pledges from donor countries representing diverse regions and income levels, including Germany, Japan, South Korea, France, Colombia, Peru, and Mexico. The GCF’s first set of eight projects — designed to build climate resilience for millions of people in vulnerable states — including Bangladesh, Fiji, and Malawi and in Central America — was approved in December.
Fully committed to this effort are 110 faith organizations and denominations, including the Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ (and 12 other CRCs of Jewish federations from across the country). Partners include the Catholic Climate Covenant, Church World Service, the Episcopal Church, Islamic Relief USA, and the World Evangelical Alliance and such national Jewish bodies as Jewish Council for Public Affairs; the U.S. organizational branches of Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist Judaism; and American Jewish World Service.
According to a letter from these and other faith-based bodies in support of U.S. support to the GCF in the FY 2017 budget, “This investment in mitigation and adaptation is our moral obligation…. It is also a sound investment in alleviating poverty, ensuring food security, and building stability now and into the future. Fulfilling our commitments to the GCF also strengthens our credibility, trust, and leadership in the international community.”