Stabilizing the concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere at levels compatible with sustainable development is the objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and an imperative for the global community. This is a daunting task, and its magnitude and costs are debated among scientists as well as policy-makers [Stern, 2006]. While most GHGs in the past have been emitted by developed countries and they are called upon to reduce their emissions and take responsibility for past mistakes, the contribution of developing countries in the future will reach similar magnitudes and is equally threatening for life on this planet. While developing countries have no commitments under the UNFCCC, they can still contribute voluntarily to climate change mitigation. The Global Environment Facility (GEF), as the financial mechanism of the UNFCCC and the leading multilateral entity promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy in developing countries and countries in transition, needs to provide significant support to these countries with respect to reaching a path of sustainable energy supply and sustainable economic and social development. Since 1992, the GEF has provided around US$ 2 billion in grants to support projects in the climate change focal area, leveraging over US$ 10 billion in total investments. Most of these funds have been spent on climate change mitigation projects. The GEF's mandate with respect to mitigation is to develop, expand, and transform markets for energy and mobility in developing countries, enabling them to grow toward and efficiently operate on a less carbon-intensive path. In doing so, the GEF applies the incremental cost principle and is restricted in the selection of technologies by a number of factors. Developing markets for sustainable energy technologies and sustainable framework conditions is a long-term effort, and it is hard to understand how effective the GEF is or can be in fulfilling this mission. This paper discusses the magnitude of the challenge, and demonstrates that this challenge is too big for the GEF's limited funds, and provides some suggestions for the GEF's programming for maximizing its impact on global GHG emissions by seeking out the most rewarding opportunities and maximizing replication of successful project examples by effective outreach and knowledge management.
Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie