Scaling the climate finance mountain

18 November 2013

Climate finance pledged through multilateral climate funds fell by 71% in the last year according to figures released today by leading global think tank the Overseas Development Institute in collaboration with the Heinrich Böll Foundation. The figures are taken from the world’s only comprehensive public climate finance commitment tracker, Climate Funds Update.

According to lead climate finance analyst Smita Nakhooda the sharp drop in pledges is caused, in part, by slow progress in agreeing the remit of the Green Climate Fund, a global pot which is intended to become the main channel through which money to combat dangerous climate change is delivered to developing countries.

Ms Nakhooda said:

“We’ve seen a sharp decline in commitments coming through multilateral funds. We need to get the Green Climate Fund to move from a good idea in theory to a game-changer in practice.

This decline is in spite of the leadership of the European Union in supporting multilateral approaches to delivering climate finance.”

The annual analysis in ‘10 things to know about climate finance’ suggests that investment in climate related activities has plateaued since the end of the Fast Start Finance period when countries exceeded their commitment to deliver US$ 30 billion by US$ 5 billion. The need for clarity on how developed countries will scale up their delivery of climate finance has been a central issue at the COP in Warsaw so far, and it is hoped that the High Level Ministerial on Climate Finance on Wednesday will result in some concrete commitments and decisions.

The report contains a number of significant statistics that put the modest scale of climate finance delivered to date in context, given efforts to scale up climate finance commitments in Warsaw this week. These include:

  • Poland spends almost as much subsidising the use of fossil fuels each year as multilateral climate funds spent in 2013 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries by financing activities such as improved energy efficiency, renewable energy, or sustainable transport.
  • Germany had to spend four times more money responding to floods in May 2013 than global adaptation funds spent since 2003 to help developing countries deal with climate change.
  • Total fast start finance reflects just 1.76% of what was spent to respond to the 2008 financial crisis.

Ms Nakhooda added:

“Governments deserve credit for meeting their commitments in times of austerity. But the real challenge is to re-orient global investment flows to support climate compatible development, to reduce emissions and strengthen our resilience to the impacts of climate change that we are already feeling. We’re subsidising fossil fuels on a massive scale. Without a change we risk wiping out the last few decades of progress in reducing poverty.”