"Parties missed a pivotal opportunity for developed countries to walk the talk regarding their commitments to combating the climate crisis," one campaigner lamented.
Climate defenders admonished several rich nations for falling short of the $10 billion fundraising goal set for Thursday's Green Climate Fund Pledging Summit in Bonn, Germany, with the United States singled out for what one campaigner called its "glaring and inexcusable" failure to contribute this round, even as the climate emergency worsens.
The Green Climate Fund (GCF)—established in 2010 under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to finance projects in developing nations to help them adapt to the climate emergency—presented an opportunity for wealthier nations to make new and increased pledges ahead of the U.N. Climate Change Conference, or COP28, which begins November 30 in Dubai.
However, Thursday's summit raised just $9.3 billion, falling short of its $10 billion goal and coming nowhere near the $200-$250 billion the UNFCCC estimates is needed every year until 2030. Twenty-five countries promised to donate to the fund, with Denmark, Ireland, and Liechtenstein doubling their previous pledges.
Germany and the United Kingdom promised $2 billion apiece. France offered $1.7 billion, while Japan said it would contribute $1.1 billion. Australia, Switzerland, Italy, and Sweden said they were working on their commitments and would donate later.
The U.S.—which previously pledged $3 billion—also signaled its intent to contribute, but offered nothing on Thursday. China, the world's largest polluter, did not pledge.
"Time is not on our side. And promises made must be promises kept," Selwin Hart, special climate adviser to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, said in a statement following the summit. "This is the only way to rebuild the trust needed to confront the climate crisis."
Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at the advocacy group Climate Action Network International, said in a statement that "the Green Climate Fund, envisioned as the lifeline for climate action in developing nations, is held back by the indifference of wealthy countries."
"It's vital to underscore that public finance is key to ensuring vulnerable nations receive the support they need, particularly for boosting adaptation efforts," he stressed.
While Ireland's 150% pledge increase is praiseworthy, the tepid commitments—or outright stagnation—from nations such as Japan and Norway are deeply concerning. Some countries, like Sweden, seem to sidestep their obligations by urging developing nations to contribute to the fund. The silence of the United States, even as it participates on the GCF Board and shapes policies without meeting its financial obligations, is glaring and inexcusable.
"With COP28 on the horizon, the GCF replenishment conference has fallen short of expectations," he added. "However, it's important to remember that nations are not restricted to making pledges only during set intervals; they can and should step forward with contributions at any time to support climate action."
Tara Daniel, senior program manager at the Women's Environment and Development Organization, said that "today, parties missed a pivotal opportunity for developed countries to walk the talk regarding their commitments to combating the climate crisis."
"As the flagship fund for implementing the Paris agreement, one that prioritizes adaptation as much as mitigation, and governed more equitably than multilateral development banks, the GCF is central to our collective efforts to achieve transformative climate action," Daniel asserted.
"Unfortunately, the pledging conference today showed that while climate impacts continue to increase, collective climate finance through the GCF has not increased," she lamented. "The U.S. in particular has failed to put any money where its climate rhetoric is."
"Yet the opportunity is not irrevocably lost; the pledging conference does not have to be the end of the road," Daniel added. "We wait to see if COP28 unlocks the ambition the world needs and deserves."