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Billions pledged to UN climate fund

November 20, 2014

Donor countries have pledged $9.3 billion for a fund aimed at helping developing countries tackle the challenges of climate change. Officials hope a $10-billion target will be met in the coming months.

Bildunterschrift:Hela Cheikhrouhou (C), Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund attends a press conference with hosts, German environment minister Barbara Hendricks (L) and development minister Gerd Mueller (R) at the development ministry in Berlin on November 20, 2014. ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images
Image: AFP/Getty Images/O. Andersen

Thirty nations on Thursday pledged a combined $9.3 billion (7.4 billion euros) for a United Nations fund that will help poor and developing countries set up defenses against the negative impacts of global warming.

Following the donors' conference in the German capital, Berlin, the fund's executive director, Hela Cheikhrouhou (pictured center above), praised the "game-changing" result of the meeting. She said money from the fund, called the Green Climate Fund, would mostly go to vulnerable countries, including small island nations and poor African states.

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres had set a target for the fund of at least $10 billion euros by the end of the year, a sum that would be disbursed over four years from 2015.

But even though Thursday's conference fell short of this goal, Germany's environment minister, Barbara Hendricks (pictured left), told reporters she was optimistic, because some countries had indicated that they would increase their contribution in the months to come.

"I'm confident that we will reach the $10 billion goal," she said. "$9.3 billion is already pretty close.

Time running out

Britain became a major contributor to the fund on Thursday, pledging $1.13 billion, after the United States last week promised to come up with $3 billion, the biggest amount so far.

Germany, Japan and France are among the other major donors, while Switzerland, South Korea, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Mexico, Luxembourg and the Czech Republic have all offered smaller amounts.

The money from the fund is to be used both to help poorer countries cope with effects of climate change such as rising seas, warmer temperatures and more extreme weather conditions, and to aid them to develop clean energy sources that produce fewer greenhouse gases.

Climate experts have recently warned that time is running out in the battle against climate change, described last week by UN chief Ban Ki-moon as "the defining issue of our times."

A UN report this month said that the Earth could experience at least 4 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit) warming in the foreseable future if humans did not cut their carbon emissions drastically.

Such a temperature rise would result in melting ice caps, along with an increased incidence of extreme weather phenomena such as hurricanes and droughts.

tj/msh (AFP, AP)