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National Ambition

Edward A. Reid Jr.
Posted On:
Feb 4, 2020 at 6:00 AM
Climate Change

Ambition             a : an ardent desire for rank, fame, or power

(link)                      b : desire to achieve a particular end

“I expect from the COP (COP25) a clear demonstration of increased ambition and commitment showing accountability, responsibility and leadership.”, Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General (link)


The Secretary General of the United Nations, in the above quote, referred to increased ambition on the part of the signatory nations to the Paris Accords to achieve their emissions reduction commitments under the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) they had made at COP21. He also referred to increased ambition regarding the magnitude of the reductions pledged in their INDCs, since the UNFCCC has asserted that the existing committed reductions are insufficient to hold future temperature anomaly increases below the 2°C level agreed to in Paris, no less the 1.5°C preferred level announced after the Paris Accords had been adopted. The next level of increased commitments is scheduled to be adopted at COP26 in 2020.

The Secretary General also referred to increased ambition with regard to funding of the UN Green Climate Fund (GCF), which was to achieve annual funding of $100 billion by 2020, but is far short of that funding level. The UNFCCC has indicated that the annual funding for climate change mitigation under the Green Climate Fund would need to grow to ~$400 billion annually to meet the anticipated needs of the developing and not-yet-developing nations. The UNFCCC has also indicated that additional funding of ~$400 billion annually would be required to fund climate change adaptation projects; and, that ~$400 billion annually would also likely be required to compensate affected nations for loss and damage resulting from climate change.

Clearly, there is a severe lack of ambition on the part of the nations expected to provide this massive level of funding. However, not surprisingly, there is great ambition on the part of the nations which would receive the funding. The nations expected to provide the funding would also be required to invest in their own transitions to a net-zero CO2 emissions economy while funding the transitions to the same net-zero emissions economies for the developing and not-yet-developing nations.

The funding nations would largely lose control of the funds they provide, as the UN GCF would be responsible for evaluating funding proposals and allocating funding to them. The mitigation funding would be allocated to meet the requirement to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050 from each of the recipient nations. The adaptation funding would be allocated based on the anticipated future effects of climate change on each of the recipient nations and the measures required to avoid adverse impacts on the individual nations’ populations.

The mitigation and adaptation funding requirements are relatively straightforward. The loss or damage funding, however, is far more subjective and there are currently no standards of evidence for loss or damage. This funding is, therefore, far more subject to fraud and abuse.

Unfortunately, the UN has an abominable history regarding the administration of such large financial programs, which is one of the issues which adversely affects the ambition of the funding nations.