The Green Climate Fund, (GCF) the United Nations-affiliated organization founded to fund climate change projects around the world, is trying to position itself to have immunity from prosecution for its global operations, despite the opposition of the United States, its largest contributor. GCF is not covered by the U.N.’s own diplomatic immunities.
The effort is likely to create even more opposition among Republican lawmakers in this year’s new Congress. The GOP already disapproves of the Obama administration’s $3 billion pledge to the Fund. A senior aide to Republican James Inhofe of Okahoma, chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, told Fox News:
We would definitely be opposed to any extension of immunity to the Fund. What do they need protection from? In essence, they are doing business development projects. If you look at the way millions of people do transactions across national borders, they do it without immunity and very successfully.
GCF officials told Fox News that they are now preparing “bilateral agreement templates” that could be negotiated individually with each country where it operates, a number that will eventually include most of the United Nation’s 193 member nations. GCF has already signed one agreement for immunity, with South Korea, where it is headquartered.
If GFC is successful in achieving immunity, potentially trillions of dollars in climate funding activities would be protected from any criminal or civilian legal actions. At the present time, the Fund holds $10 billion in funding and pledges.
Immunity would apply to all documents, statements and actions of officials and consultants in the activity of the Fund. Under the terms of immunity, in the world of diplomacy, employees of the fund would also receive tax-free salaries.
Fox New questioned GCF spokesman, Michel Smitall, as to why the Fun needs immunity. His answers were general:
Privileges and immunities are intended to facilitate GCF activities in countries in which it operates and the GCF’s ability to use contributions by donor countries in an effective and efficient manner that serves the objectives agreed by its member countries.
He refused to give specifics as to the scope of privileges and immunities the Fund will be seeking from individual countries. He said the immunities “are expected to cover a range of issues, such as protecting GCF staff members acting in their official capacity and facilitating their official travel and protecting taxpayer dollars contributed by donor countries.”
He assured Fox the GCF functions with transparency under oversight of its board. He promised the Fund would work closely with national authorities in case there are ever criminal or civil actions brought against the organization.
GCF’s push to gain immunity illustrates the problems inherent in creating a huge bureaucracy around climate change. The rules of the bureaucracy are ambiguous; as it grows, the difficulty of managing it grows as well. The Fund grew out of the United States Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC the legal home of the Kyoto Protocol. UNFCCC is currently preparing a successor treaty that will be unveiled at the Paris climate summit next year.