Organizers meet to create $100b climate fund

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A new global fund on climate change that aims to channel $100 billion a year in aid to poor countries selected officials from South Africa and Australia as its leaders at its first meeting Thursday.

The Green Climate Fund, created as part of a deal struck in December 2011 at the 194-nation climate talks in Durban, South Africa, will be led by Zaheer Fakir, head of international relations for South Africa’s environment agency, and Ewen McDonald, deputy head of Australia’s international development agency, the fund said in a statement.

It would receive and distribute $100 billion that rich nations have pledged annually by 2020 to help poorer countries adapt to changing climate conditions and to move toward low-carbon economic growth. The commitment to provide those billions in climate aid through the new “green” fund came as part of a hard-fought agreement in Durban that was meant to set a new course for the global fight against climate change for the coming decades.

But the agreement did not specify how that money would be mobilized, and a series of technical decisions on how and where it should be run and even how it could raise those funds were put off for later.

Its 24-member board began by organizing itself, setting rules and hearing offers from six nations that would like to host the fund’s operations: Germany, Mexico, Namibia, Poland, South Korea and Switzerland.

Swiss Cabinet member Doris Leuthard, who directs the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, welcomed the board to Geneva for the fund’s inaugural three-day meeting, which runs through Saturday. She also began pressing the Swiss case for serving as the fund’s long-range hosts.

The fund was created in addition to the $30 billion in “fast-track financing” for poor countries that rich nations agreed to provide at the December 2009 climate talks in Copenhagen, since the Green Climate Fund is envisioned as the world’s biggest financier for helping the developing world mitigate and adapt to climate change from 2020 onwards.

The board’s members include a Chinese assistant finance minister, U.S. deputy assistant treasury secretary, Russian deputy chief in the president’s office, Danish central banker, Czech deputy finance minister, Bangladeshi environment minister and Pakistani U.N. ambassador.