Incheon in final pitch to host climate fund

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Oct 4, 2012 - 20:42
  • Updated : Oct 4, 2012 - 20:42
Decision on location of Green Climate Fund secretariat due mid-Oct.

The countdown has begun for the selection of the host city of a U.N.-operated fund, envisioned to be the single largest source of financing for global efforts to fight climate change.

About two weeks from now, the board of Green Climate Fund will meet in Incheon to decide which of the six bidding cities, including Incheon, is the best location for its secretariat.

The other five in the race are Bonn in Germany, Mexico City, Windhoek in Namibia, Warsaw and Geneva.

“The decision on the host city, although a preliminary one, is expected during the GCF’s second board meeting, which will take place here in Songdo from Oct. 18-20,” Incheon said in a press statement.

The selection is subject to a final endorsement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar, at the end of the year.

Officials of Incheon and Korea’s central government are making their final pitch to the fund’s 24 board members, equally split between developed and developing countries.

Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik and the city’s mayor Song Young-gil are to travel to Copenhagen on Sunday, where environmental policymakers from around the world will gather for the Global Green Growth Forum. 
I-Tower in Songdo, the western port city of Incheon. (Incheon Metropolitan City)

Incheon is also trying to drum up public support for its bid with a variety of events, including a marathon on Sunday.

On Sept. 27, the National Assembly unanimously passed a motion that pledges full support for the GCF’s successful establishment, should it come to Korea.

Among the five competitors, Germany and Switzerland appear strong, but Incheon officials say that Korea does stand a chance, being the only Asian location in the race.

If Incheon is selected, it will help balance international environmental organizations which are mostly based in Europe and North America and will also be a display of the fund’s commitment to supporting developing countries, they claim.

“Korea, a country which has risen to prosperity from being one of the world’s poorest countries and is now pursuing a greener path, can play a role of a bridge between the developed and developing worlds,” they said.

Bridging the gap between developed and developing worlds in efforts to mitigate climate change is, in fact, the main idea behind the GCF.

First proposed in 2009 and established in December 2011, the fund is meant to be the single biggest channel for delivering money to developing countries to help them cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Rich countries have pledged to commit $100 billion per year for the fund by 2020.

Key details of the fund are yet to be drawn up, such as who should run it and how it will operate and raise funds.

The secretariat, to be established early next year following the decision on the head office location, will have 300 to 500 employees in the initial period, which will rise to several thousand once the fund gets up and running.

If Incheon is selected, it will also represent recognition of Korea’s past efforts to make its economy greener and share with other countries its experiences along the road.

Since President Lee Myung-bak proclaimed in 2008 low-carbon, green growth as a new national development paradigm, the country has made a series of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce dependence on fossil fuels and develop green industries into a new growth engine.

It has since been investing 2 percent of its gross domestic product for that goal.

In 2009, the country pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from business-as-usual levels by 2020.

To disseminate the new green development paradigm, the country also plans to increase the share of climate-related official development aid to 30 percent of its total ODA by 2020.

By Lee Sun-young (