What You Need To Know: The Green Climate Fund

by Jared Feldman

What You Need To Know: The Green Climate Fund

Background on the Green Climate Fund

The Green Climate Fund is… The Green Climate Fund (abbreviated as “GCF”) is an international resource pool for adaptation to a changing climate and mitigation of climate disruption’s root causes in developing countries. 

In the United States, we are already adapting to climate change. The city of Miami, for instance, is working to create infrastructure that takes into account rising sea levels, which are a result of rising global temperatures. Developing countries, specifically low-lying islands and small island developing states, also need to adapt to climate change in their infrastructure, but do not have the funding to do so on their own. 

In the same vein, the United States and the rest of the developed nations are building energy sources that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, either by being more efficient in their energy generation and/or by substituting renewable energy resources such as wind and solar power for energy from fossil fuels. These renewable resources create dramatically less carbon pollution, and therefore mitigate the effect of climate change.  In the developing world, where energy development is happening rapidly, it’s critical that new energy sources are developed sustainably and rely on renewable sources. 

The fund itself is a resource pool with contributions from both developed countries and developing countries. Nations and institutions can apply to the fund to create projects in developing countries that support adaptation and mitigation. Thus far, there are pledges and contributions from over 30 countries. In 2015, the United States pledged to contribute $3 billion to the fund by 2020, with a $500 million portion of this funding to be apportioned in fiscal year 2016.

Last year, during the Congressional budget appropriations, the House of Representatives provided no money for the Green Climate Fund. The Senate did the same. However, during the subcommittee mark-up in the Senate, Senators Kirk (R-IL) and Merkley (D-OR) offered a bipartisan amendment that allowed for the State Department to contribute to the Green Climate Fund with discretionary money. This provided a pathway for the United States to fulfill its entire commitment for 2016.

Now, Congress is considering the budget and appropriations for fiscal year 2017. The President’s budget for next year includes $750 million for the fund. 

We care about it because… The Green Climate Fund sits at the intersection of climate and poverty. It is clearly a climate change mitigation strategy, but, just as importantly, these projects improve the lives of the poor and vulnerable around the globe. In this way, the support for the Green Climate Fund comes from two places in our Jewish tradition. Not only are we “tilling and tending” the earth, as God commanded in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15) by safeguarding against climate change, but we are also “championing the poor and the vulnerable” (Proverbs 31:9).

Our interfaith partners agree. We are collaborating with Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, and Muslim communities on this issue. The Green Climate Fund is an advocacy issue where people across lines of faith can work together on shared priorities.

We’ve already… Last year, the Washington Inter-religious Staff Council’s Energy and Environment Working Group put together a letter asking members of Congress to support the Green Climate Fund. The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and many other national Jewish groups signed the letter along with 80 other faith-based national organizations. More importantly, Jewish leadership came in from around the country and spoke directly to their elected officials throughout the year. Top rabbis from Chicago spoke to Senator Kirk days before he decided to champion the issue and told the Senator why they were passionate about funding the Green Climate Fund.

How To Get Involved

  1. The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life has an action alert that will be sent to the offices of members of Congress urging them to sign onto the Green Climate Fund. You can sign the action alert here.
  2. Yesterday, leaders from the Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish communities, as well as a civil society expert of the Green Climate Fund, hosted an educational webinar on the fund. You can watch the recording here.

Additional Resources

  • Several international civil society groups put together a detailed and extensive set of resources on the Green Climate Fund. Find them here.
  • Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life Manager Liya Rechtman wrote an article for Black History Month on why climate change is a racial justice issue and why Jews should support the Green Climate Fund. Read the article here.
  • Religious Action Center Director Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner and former President of the Progressive National Baptist Convention Reverend Dr. Caroll Baltimore co-authored an article last year on the Green Climate Fund for Earth Day 2015 that asks for Green Climate Fund funding. Read the article here.

Please contact Liya Rechtman at lrechtman@thejcpa.org with any additional questions.


About the Author


Jared Feldman