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Climate Change Finance and Women’s Empowerment

Posted in The Planet & Ecological Health on February 7th, 2013 by

This session explored the gender dimensions of international climate change finance, including essential nuts and bolts of gender climate change adaptation, mitigation and technology transfer and development. Participants mapped out the instruments, institutions and modalities of climate change financing as they exist and are emerging globally, regionally and nationally. A summary prepared by AWID staff of the issues raised in the economic toolbox session “Climate Change Finance and Women’s Empowerment” at the 2012 AWID Forum is included below.

Speakers: Mariama Williams (South Centre)

Climate Change Finance and Women’s Empowerment:

10 Things You Should Know

 1. Climate change is defined as the long-term rise in the average temperature of the earth’s surface, and the systemic/chronic state of variability in the climate.

  • Climate change affects precipitation and contributes to frequent and extreme weather conditions.

2. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a body of over 2500 scientists who analyze scientific findings and reports in order to assess the state of climate change.  Since 1988, they have presented the consensus that the planet is warming and it is likely due to human factors including the burning of fossil fuels, coal, gases, etc.

  • These energy sources emit greenhouse gases, which act like a blanket, reflecting heat back to the earth so that the temperature keeps rising.  Greenhouse gases have a very long lifespan.
  • The IPCC was created in 1988 and their first report presented a global assessment on the state of climate change.  Further assessment reports in 1995, 2001, and 2007 have continued to provide updated information on the impact of climate change.  Last year, the IPCC released a special report that stated that they could confidently link climate change to the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events (e.g. storms, cyclones.)

3. The two main strategies that have been enlisted to reduce greenhouse gases are mitigation, that is actions to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions; and adaptation, that is actions to adapt to the effects of greenhouse gas.

  • These two strategies were established via the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCC), which was adopted by governments at the 1992 Earth Summit.
  • Mitigation and adaptation are inextricably intertwined.  Decreased mitigation leads to a worsening of the state of the environment, which leads to increased need for adaptation.  Conversely, with an increase in mitigation, the need for adaptation decreases.

4. The UNFCC financing architecture is based on the principle that due to the link between greenhouse gases and industrialization, developed (OECD) countries are responsible for taking the lead on mitigating greenhouse gases, whereas developing countries are responsible to develop sustainably and focus on adaptation.

  • It also states that effective adaptation by developing countries needs to be supported through transfer of finance and technology, which developed countries have committed to support.

5. The Conference Of Parties (COP) is the operational body of the UNFCC that is responsible for making decisions and developing the policy infrastructure for climate change financing.

  • There are a number of bodies that the COP has engaged for the management of the distribution of funds to developing countries.  Adjustments and improvements have been proposed along the way to deal with challenges in instituting the policies.
  • The Global Environment Facility (GEF) was the first body contracted for countries to funnel their funds to support developing countries with climate financing.
  • At the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009, developed countries proposed Fast Start Finance to provide developing countries with 30 billion dollars for mitigation, adaptation and technology transfers from 2010-2012.  This initiative also committed to a goal to mobilize 100 billion dollars by 2020. (In the grand scheme of things, this amount is not able to provide the funds necessary to have a significant impact; for example for South East Asia alone $50 billion is needed just for adaptation over the next 5 – 10 years.)
  • The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was established (Cancun 2010) in response to the inadequate flow of climate change finance since 1992 when the UNFCC was adopted.  This is the latest evolution of the financing mechanism under the UNFCC.

6. In 2010, the Conference of Parties (COP) formally established a target to prevent warming beyond a global mean of 2 degrees Celsius.

  • However, this is a number that is highly debated.  Many experts agree that this target is too high for some countries, because a 2 degree mean temperature puts the mean at 3 or 4 degrees for Africa which means more flood, drought, etc. within countries that already do not have the infrastructure needed to sustain extreme weather conditions that are associated with global warming.

7. Due to the agreement that industrialized nations are more responsible for the emissions of green house gases and need to provide compensation for the damage they caused, the principles of climate financing include that it must be new and additional to funds to those already targeted for development; as well the funds must be adequate and should not put a burden on developing countries.  There are a number of mechanisms available for developed countries to provide this funding such as:

  • REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) is a project that promotes the protection of forests in which developed countries make arrangements to allow developing countries to avoid cutting down trees. This is an important tactic as trees produce oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
  • Innovative financing tools where taxes are placed on airplane fuel, maritime fuel and carbon based fuel.

8. Climate change is not gender neutral.  Women have been working to integrate gender into the policy and financing in the climate change architecture.   During extreme weather events, more women die than men (or die at a younger age) because of a variety of factors including:

  • Gender discrimination
  • Access to resources and information
  • Cultural factors (in developing countries, women often don’t know how to swim; as well their traditional clothes impede mobility)
  • Traditional role as caregivers in the informal economy, so that during natural disasters these pre-existing gender roles get exacerbated.
  • Health factors such as the growth of parasites and mosquitoes which climate change contributes to (according to studies.) There is evidence from the World Health Organization that pregnant woman are more susceptible to malaria and other forms of diseases.

9. Through an exercise in which developing countries put forth their most urgent issues for adaptation, women’s rights was usually absent and in some cases only mentioned at a surface level, but then evaporated with more in depth analysis.

10. Small victories in gender visibility within the climate change framework make room for additional opportunities.

  • The main proponent for incorporating gender has been the Global Gender Climate Change Alliance (an alliance of women’s organizations and the gender focal points of the UN.)
  • In Cancun 2010 discussions, gender was included in the text in eight significant areas.
  • Under the Green Climate Fund, gender implications have been taken into consideration in terms of governance and board structure.



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