Support Builds for Mechanism to Reduce Emissions and Raise Climate Finance from Shipping

Members of Congress call on the Obama Administration to support the Green Climate Fund and innovative financing from international transportation.

One of the most anticipated outcomes of the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-17) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) underway in Durban, South Africa, is the constitution of the Green Climate Fund. So far, however, it has been unclear where the money for the fund will be coming from. A mechanism to raise finance through an international maritime levy or similar instrument, championed by WWF and partners, is gaining momentum and could become the first clear source of steady revenue for the Green Climate Fund.


© Arensbach / WWF

Ministers arriving in Durban for the high-level segment of the negotiations were received by a draft negotiating text that for the first time incorporates specific guidance to the International Maritime Organization (IMO).  The guidance includes emissions reduction targets for the sector and mention of the concept of “no net incidence.” That concept is essential to reconciling the guiding principles of the UNFCCC (which ask developed countries to lead) with the principles of the IMO (which assert that no country’s ships shall get more favorable treatment than others). WWF and Oxfam have promoted a proposal for how such a mechanism could work in our paper: Out of the Bunker-Time for a Fair Deal on Shipping Emissions.

As the Financial Times noted yesterday (5 December 2011): “It is the first time any mention of how the fund might be financed has emerged [in the negotiating text],” and “its presence in even a draft text represents a victory for environmental campaigners that have long argued for such measure.”

The U.S. delegation in Durban has also received strong calls in support of the Green Climate Fund and a maritime mechanism from 53 members of Congress, led by Representative Donald Payne (Democrat, New Jersey), and 16 Senators, led by Senator John Kerry (Democrat, Massachusetts). The Stand With Africa Campaign also has called for action; and the International Chamber of Shipping has offered support.  Collectively, these provide the solid backing that the U.S. should use to shift its position in Durban.  The U.S. has thus far been reluctant to offer open support to a global shipping mechanism that includes climate finance.

The following are excerpts from the Congressional letters sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner.

Letter (5 December 2011) to Secretary of State Clinton from Senator Kerry and 15 other senators:

“We also encourage the Administration to support innovative approaches to generate additional public and private sources of climate financing. To this end, we support an outcome in Durban that makes progress on contributions from other sources, including international transportation sectors and market mechanisms, and a process for determining how these sectors contribute to the long-term financing target.

We also support establishing guidelines for the operation of the Green Climate Fund designed to maximize impact, effectiveness, and efficiency.”

Letter (22 November 2011) to Secretary of State Clinton and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner from Representative Payne and 52 colleagues:

“In preparation for the upcoming summit, we urge the Administration to (…) Operationalize a transparent and accountable Green Climate Fund (...) [and] Support innovative approaches to generate new and additional public finance to help developing countries confront the climate crisis, including mechanisms in the shipping and aviation sectors. Shipping and aviation mechanisms should be designed to generate climate finance, reduce emissions and protect developing countries against undue burdens or costs.”

Online Resources:
Share this