PARIS, November 6: The UN's Green Climate Fund (GCF) said today it had approved its first financing of projects to help developing countries fight global warming, three weeks before a summit opens in Paris to ink a climate rescue pact.
Finance is a divisive issue as rich and developing nations negotiate a global agreement on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, and conference host France has said firm money commitments will be key to getting an agreement in December.
The GCF said in a statement its board had approved $168 million for eight projects in countries including Peru, Malawi, Senegal, Bangladesh, Fiji and Maldives.
"The fund is now truly up and running, and I am confident the board will go on to scale and fund much bigger projects in the near future," the board's Co-Chairman Henrik Harboe said.
Developing nations are looking to rich countries to show how they intend to meet a promise made in 2009 to mobilise $100 billion per year in climate finance from 2020.
The money is to help them make the shift from cheap and abundant fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and to shore up national defences against climate change-induced superstorms, drought, floods and sea-level rise.
Developing countries also want compensation for "loss and damage" suffered as a result of such events, for which they say rich nations are mainly to blame as they have polluted the atmosphere for longer.
In September, President Francois Hollande of France, which will host the November 30-December 11 UN climate conference, said forging a pact hinged on "firm commitment on finance" for developing nations.