The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) defines climate change as a change of climate directly or indirectly attributed to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.
Climate change from human-induced emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases (GHGs) is a critical global issue, requiring substantial action. These actions include investment to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, and adaptation to climate changes including variability. The early impacts of climate change have already appeared, and scientists believe that further impacts are inevitable. Many of the most serious and negative impacts of climate change will be disproportionately borne by the poorest people in developing countries.
Fulfilling UNFCCC Objectives
GEF projects in climate change help developing countries and economies in transition to contribute to the overall objective of the UNFCCC "to achieve [...] stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner" (from the text of the UNFCCC, Art.2).
The GEF supports projects in:
- Climate Change Mitigation:Reducing or avoiding greenhouse gas emissions in the areas of renewable energy; energy efficiency; sustainable transport; and management of land use, land-use change ,and forestry (LULUCF)
- Climate Change Adaptation: Aiming at developing countries to become climate-resilient by promoting both immediate and longer-term adaptation measures in development policies, plans, programs, projects, and actions.
As the financial mechanism of the UNFCCC, the GEF allocates and disburses hundreds of millions of dollars per year in projects in energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable urban transport and sustainable management of land use, land-use change, and forestry. The GEF also manages two separate adaptation-focused Funds under the UNFCCC — the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), which mobilize funding specifically earmarked for activities related to adaptation, and the latter also to technology transfer.
GEF helps developing countries undertake “win-win” projects to reduce emissions of GHGs that also create benefits for local economies and their environmental conditions. GEF programs take a long-term perspective, transforming energy markets in developing countries by enabling these markets to operate more efficiently and shift away from carbon-intensive technologies. Until 2009, the GEF has invested US$2.7 billion to support climate change mitigation projects in developing countries and economies in transition, and leveraged another US$17.2 billion in project cofinancing. More than 1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions, an amount equivalent to nearly 5 percent of annual human emissions, have been avoided with GEF support.
UNFCCC-GEF Retreat Meeting
The UNFCCC-GEF retreat was held on March 22-23, 2012 by videoconference, linking the GEF Secretariat in Washington, D.C. and UNFCCC Secretariat in Bonn.
The objectives of the retreat were to: 1) Advance collaboration to support the implementation of guidance and decisions by Parties; 2) Identify follow up actions to be undertaken by the GEF and UNFCCC Secretariats to enhance implementation of mandates from the Conference of the Parties (COP).
The retreat was opened with welcoming remarks from Ms. Christiana Figueres and Mrs. Monique Barbut. A large number of staff members from both secretariats participated in the retreat. During the two-day event, the participants discussed and exchanged views on a number of topics of mutual interest, including the following items:
- Green Climate Fund
- GEF Report to COP
- Finance Web Portal
- Adaptation (National Adaptation Plans, Least Developed Countries Work Program, Implementation of National Adaptation Programmes of Action)
- Mitigation (Support for Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions, Provision of Information to the Registry)
- Enabling Activities (Non-Annex I National Communications/ Biennial update reports, Capacity Building and Article 6 of the UNFCCC)
- Technology Transfer (Technology Execute Committee, Poznan Strategic Program)
The meeting summary is available from the GEF Secretariat upon request.