A new Green Climate Fund that aims to developing nations cope with global warming reached a U.N. goal of $10 billion on Tuesday at global climate talks in Lima, Peru helped by a surprise donation from Australia.
Several of the 190 nations at the meeting welcomed the cash from both Australia and Belgium, but China said rich countries were not working fast enough to meet a broader goal of providing $100 billion a year by 2020 from public and private sources to help the poor cope.
“We’ve got above one of the psychologically important milestones of more than $10 billion,” Hela Cheikhrouhou, head of the Fund, told Reuters.
Pledges by 24 nations now total $10.14 billion, she said.
Environment ministers are meeting in Lima from Dec. 1-12 to work on elements of a draft deal to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Finance is a key part of the deal, due to be agreed in Paris in late 2015, to help developing nations take part.
Australia, which faced criticisms by developing nations after it did not make a pledge at a donors’ meeting last month, pledged A$200 million ($166 million) and Belgium 51.6 million euros ($64 million).
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the funds would help mobilise private-sector investments with a focus in the Indian Ocean and Pacific regions on “investment infrastructure, energy, forestry and emissions reductions.”
“It is a pleasant, welcome surprise” Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute think tank said of the Australian contribution. She said the cash was an important vote of confidence in the fledgling GCF.
The U.N. said earlier this year it hoped the initial round of pledges would reach $10 billion to encourage progress in the Lima negotiations.
The fund is meant to help poor nations cut their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change, which has worsened desertification and led to more powerful storms and rising sea levels.
China’s chief negotiator Xie Zhenhua said developed nations were doing too little to raise climate finance towards the goal of $100 billion a year by 2020, promised in 2009.
“The Lima conference should adopt a clear roadmap on finance by 2020 by specifying the annual amount of public finance by every developed nation, every year,” he said.