by Jason Hopkins
The fate of the U.N.’s Green Climate Fund is up in the air following the abrupt resignation of its leader.
The Green Climate Fund — an international program launched by the United Nations to combat climate change and spend money on green energy initiatives — has been turned upside down after the sudden departure of Howard Bamsey. The Australian diplomat was appointed to lead the GCF in January 2017, but is leaving after less than two years on the job. His resignation follows what is being described as a “difficult” Wednesday meeting in which zero new projects were approved.
“This has been a very difficult and disappointing board meeting for all of us, but most importantly for those people who are most vulnerable to climate change impacts, and who depend on the activities of the Fund,” the chairman of GCF, Lennart Bage, said in a statement.
The U.N. launched GCF in 2010 to promote green energy initiatives around the world. The organization has committed nearly $4 billion into international projects that aim to reduce carbon emissions and help developing countries overcome the impacts of climate change. However, it has also been criticized for being costly and ineffective. Red tape and disagreements on what projects to invest in has plagued the organization for years.
Congressional Republicans in 2016 attempted to block U.S. payments to the group. The GCF endured further setbacks after President Donald Trump vowed during the 2016 campaign to cut its funding, claiming the organization was a huge waste of American taxpayer dollars.
Under former President Barack Obama, the U.S. had pledged $3 billion to the GCF. About $1 billion of this pledge had already been donated before the Trump administration took over. Trump — as part of his decision to withdraw from the Paris accord — halted U.S. contributions in 2017 and refused to give the remaining $2 billion. The move cut the GCF’s entire budget by 20 percent.
The organization has struggled ever since the loss of American funding.
“I have been considering the best timing for my departures from the secretariat,” Bamsey stated in a letter. “Pressing personal issues meant I would simply not be able to stay until the end of next year which is when replenishment is likely to conclude.”
Based in Incheon, South Korea, the GCF financially supports 76 projects across the globe and runs a staff of 250.
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