15 November – The chief of the UN’s Climate Change Convention Secretariat welcomed a $3 billion pledge to the Green Climate Fund announced Saturday by U.S. President Barack Obama and predicted it will induce other countries to follow suit.

“The announcement today by the United States sets a new benchmark for GCFG support and provides inspiration for other developed countries to act,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The fund is primarily intended to aid the world’s poorer and most-vulnerable countries move toward a future marked by low-carbon emissions and resilience.

Mr. Obama announced the contribution on Saturday in Brisbane, Australia, prior to the opening of the G-20 Summit.

The fund “allows us to help developing countries break out of the false choice between development and pollution,” he said, adding that he expected it would help them “leapfrog some of the dirty industries that powered our development” and move straight to a clean-energy economy – one that will foster growth and create jobs while reducing carbon emissions.

He predicted that it will also help vulnerable communities install early-warning systems, build stronger defenses against storm surge and climate-resilient infrastructure and help farmers plant more durable crops.

The Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund, Héla Cheikhrouhou, noted that the contribution comes five days ahead of the fund’s first high-level pledging conference, in Berlin, Germany.

The announcement “will be seen by generations to come as the game-changing moment that started a scaling-up of global action on climate change, and that enabled the global agreement,” she said.

She was referring to the planned meeting in December 2015 in Paris, where efforts will be made to devise an accord that would limit greenhouse gas emissions so that global temperatures do not rise by more than 2 degrees Celsius – thereby averting the most severe impacts of climate change.

Saturday’s announcement brings support for the GCF to nearly $6 billion from 12 countries, more than halfway toward its goal of $10 billion.

The impact of the pledge could be seen next month, when climate negotiators are to meet in Lima, Peru, to hammer out a draft agreement to be ratified in Paris, said Elizabeth Burleson, a lawyer who has advised the United Nations on environmental matters.

“This is helpful walking into the Peruvian talks because we have a collective-action problem,” she said.

“When you look at something like climate change, you can very easily get many, many, many countries to feel that they can get what the economists call a free ride – and everyone else can step up to the plate.”

With the United States already at the plate with a major contribution, other countries may be more likely to support the fund, too, she said.

“There has to be a collective willpower to see this through.”