Tuesday, January 18

Bezos, Ikea and Rockefeller pledge billions for climate


Global philanthropic organizations reached into their pockets to make a big statement on the first full day of the United Nations climate conference.

The Rockefeller and Ikea foundations announced plans Monday to create a Global Energy Alliance for People and the Planet that will allow rich governments, as well as rich people, to make incremental and efficient donations for the energy transition in the poorest nations.

The organization, which also includes eight multilateral and development finance institutions, will start with $ 10 billion to test innovative strategies and technologies to support renewable energy around the world, especially in areas where private capital is still in doubt. Once the prototypes are tested, the hope is that they will unlock $ 100 billion in public and private investment to expand them.

The Bezos Earth Fund said it will donate $ 500 million to that joint initiative. At the same time, he pledged a billion dollars for landscape restoration, such as tree planting and grassland revitalization, and an equal sum to transform food systems by making agriculture more productive while reducing its consumption. greenhouse gases.

The programs, announced on the first full day of the Glasgow, Scotland conference, known as COP26, are intended to augment rich nations ‘pledges in 2009 to fund poor nations’ energy transitions with $ 100 billion annually.

“Even if rich countries hit $ 100 billion, it’s not close to the trillions that are needed,” said Joseph Curtin, director of Rockefeller’s energy and climate team. “We wanted to create the conditions for the private sector to invest on a large scale.”

The question of who pays is critical to stepping up the effort to control temperatures. Poor countries say they need finance to step up their carbon reduction ambitions and invest in new technologies to stop burning fossil fuels. The investment divide is particularly stark in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, with rich countries investing billions in the recovery while poor nations struggle.

Energy-poor countries are currently responsible for 24% of global carbon dioxide and their share of emissions could grow to 76% by 2050 unless they transition from coal, according to an analysis published by the Global Energy Alliance as part of its ad.

The richest nations will reach their goal of $ 100 billion in 2023, three years late, according to a report prepared by Canada and Germany at the request of COP26 President Alok Sharma. That finding published last week angered many developing nations. India, the third-largest producer of carbon dioxide behind China and the United States, has explicitly said that it cannot reach a net zero goal without further help.

The Rockefeller-Ikea-Bezos plan isn’t the only new financing available. On Monday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced an initiative to help developing countries access green technologies to grow their economies without polluting. The plan includes doubling UK-assisted green investments to more than $ 4.1 billion over five years, Johnson’s office said in a statement.

Boris Johnson speaks during the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow on November 1. Photographer: Emily Macinnes / Bloomberg

It can be politically difficult for governments to make large donations to other nations, said Sundaa Bridgett-Jones, who is transitioning from her role as Rockefeller CEO to head of new partnerships and advocacy for the Global Energy Alliance. Furthermore, the mechanism for making such donations is not particularly streamlined. Nations could do this through their own development agencies or through funds directed to multilateral institutions such as the World Bank.

“What is missing is a way to add donations in an agile and flexible way,” he said. “This provides an easy way to pool smaller donations.”

The Rockefeller Foundation, a New York-based philanthropic organization with more than a century of international experience, has already spent a decade funding 200 solar microgrids to serve remote villages in India. Once the issues were resolved, Tata Power of India agreed to expand the project to 10,000 grids. That success caught the attention of the Ikea Foundation, created by the founder of the Swedish furniture giant, which had separately been supporting microgrids work in sub-Saharan Africa.

CEIKEA Per Heggenes Foundation Photographer: Riccardo Savi / Getty Images

Together, they decided to cooperate in an effort that would combine their funds and expertise, and allow others to make donations. In recent months, they brought in development organizations such as the African Development Bank Group, the Asian Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Development Finance Corporation of the United States and the Bank World, among others.

Bridgett-Jones said the new platform would be a hassle-free place where countries could make more modest donations that would not necessarily count towards their 2009 promises. Italy, for example, has already pledged € 10 million, she said.

Rockefeller said it would have strict metrics that others can use to measure progress. Jennifer Layke, global director of energy at the World Resources Institute, a Washington nonprofit that is not part of the deal, applauded that. “We have seen a lot of advertisements,” he said. “We just don’t know if they add up. We need to be sure that we can track the implementation. ”

The Bezos Earth Fund. which is a climate philanthropy recently established by Amazon.com Inc. founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos, was more vague about how he plans to spend his money. In addition to outlining the two broad focus areas, the foundation said it plans to spend the $ 2 billion by 2030. That pledge is in addition to a $ 1 billion pledge the fund made in September to retain 30 percent of the funds. Virgin areas left on land and sea by 2030.

“Our commitment today supports a three-fold imperative: We must preserve what we have, restore what we have lost, and grow what we need,” Bezos said in a prepared statement.

© 2021 Bloomberg


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