Scotland’s New International Climate Financing Program Leads The Way

Sadly, those who have contributed the least to climate change will suffer the most because of it.

Any global deal on reducing emissions will require developed countries to step up and help developing nations adapt and mitigate climate change. Hence, the importance of the green fund negotiated at last December’s UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa.

Recognizing the importance of “climate justice,” individual countries are stepping up and creating their own funds to assist developing countries. In Scotland this week, First Minister Alex Salmond and former Irish President Mary Robinson announced a multi-million Euro fund for water access projects in Africa.

Scotland is committing £3 million, one million every year for the next three years, to projects in Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zambia in an effort to help residents of those nations gain more access to precious water resources. Leaders are also encouraging other nations to follow suit.


At the announcement, First Minister Salmond proclaimed: “In launching this fund we are all too aware that one country cannot win the battle against climate change alone. Collective action is not an option but an imperative, and we need to ensure our actions and our message inspires others to act.”

Robinson, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said during the announcement that “(c)reating a new narrative based on climate justice, which amplifies the voices of the vulnerable, can inject the necessary urgency and ambition into the international negotiations…”

One such negotiation took place in Durban in 2011. The main outcome from those talks was “the creation of a new Durban Platform for Enhanced Mitigation starting a new negotiating track that must produce a legal agreement by 2015, which is later open for ratification.”

Already, international collaboration on climate financing exists in the form of the Fast Start Financing initiative. The nations involved in the initiative pledged $30 billion annually from 2009–2012 and plan to contribute $100 billion annually starting in 2020. In order to make such lofty spending goals a reality, the Center for American Progress recommends a “’ramp-up’ period to increase public and private investment from 2013 to 2020 designed to bridge the gap between the ‘fast start finance’ period… and the target for $100 billion in climate finance by 2020.”

This way, by setting practical targets, the 2020 goal is far more attainable. Scotland is not involved in the Fast Start period, a fact which makes their commitment to international climate financing all the more admirable.


Developing nations pledged in 2009 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050, and the capital raised through international climate financing can go a long way to achieving that goal.

Max Frankel is an intern with the energy team at the Center for American Progress. CAP’s International Policy Analyst Rebecca Lefton contributed to this report.