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South Africa and Australia appointed co-chairs of Green Climate Fund
Geneva: After a series of delays, the first meeting of the UN's Green Climate Fund (GCF) kicked off yesterday in Geneva with the appointment of representatives from Australia and South Africa as co-chairs of the fund's influential board. Zaheer Fakir, head of international relations and governance at South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs, and Ewen McDonald, deputy director general of the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), were elected as co-chairs of the new board.
Australia had been widely expected to provide the co-chair representing industrialised nations, while South Africa beat a number of other developing world candidates to secure the nomination.
The appointment of the co-chairs is expected to be the most significant development from the first meeting of the group, which had been delayed for several months amid rows over which countries would have representatives on the board.
Officials signalled that no decision was expected on where the GCF will be based, with a final choice unlikely to be made until the next board meeting in October.
Namibia, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, South Korea and Mexico are all pressing their claims to host the fund, and officials hope a final decision can be reached by the board in the autumn and rubber-stamped by the UN at the annual climate change summit in Doha in December.
Once a headquarters is determined the GCF faces a series of challenges as it begins work to identify how $100bn a year of climate-related funding can be raised and distributed to projects in developing countries.
The group is likely to investigate a wide-range of different proposals, including expanding the carbon market, imposing new emissions levies on aviation and shipping, and accelerating clean technology transfer schemes.
It is also expected to play a role in bridging the looming funding gap, which is expected to emerge from the end of this year when the current $30bn package of "fast-start" funding that was agreed at the Copenhagen Summit comes to an end.
The GCF is not expected to start distributing funds until 2015 at the earliest and growing numbers of developing countries and green groups are increasingly concerned that funding programmes could stall next year unless significant progress is made at this year's Doha Summit.
Business leaders will be watching the development of the fund closely, given that it could provide a major new source of capital for green investment in emerging markets, as well as a forum for the development of new emissions charging mechanisms.
As Green Climate Fund Finally Meets, Funding Remains Uncertain (Inter Press Service)
Aust to spearhead global fund for climate change (The Canberra Times)