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Climate Finance Untangled

Barbara Buchner's picture

Courtesy: CPIGlobal leaders have spoken strongly on the urgent need for climate action, putting it back on top of the 2013 agenda. During his inaugural address and State of the Union speech, President Obama gave clear signals about his intentions to address this issue in his second term. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, president of the World Bank Group Jim Yong Kim reminded economic leaders about the potentially devastating impacts that could occur in a world 4°C warmer by the end of the century.

Unlocking finance is an essential part of avoiding that future. But, before leaders can determine how much more money is needed, they need to establish how much is already flowing, what the main sources are, and where it’s going.

These are the key questions my team and I at Climate Policy Initiative aimed to answer with the release of the “The Landscape of Climate Finance 2012”. Our analysis estimated global climate finance flows at an average $364 billion in 2011. To put this in context, according to the International Energy Agency, the world needs $1 trillion a year over 2012 to 2050 to finance a low-emissions transition, so current finance flows still fall far short of what is needed.

Private finance dominates but public finance plays a key role

A couple of weeks ago in a freezing Washington I had the opportunity to share the findings of the report, and the Climate Finance Flows Diagram (or “spaghetti” diagram, so-called for its tangle of finance flows) to an expert audience of practitioners at the Word Bank’s premises.

Confirming last year’s findings, we found that private finance – predominantly of domestic nature – represented the lion’s share of this total, almost 74%. Public funds, estimated at $16 to $23 billion, played a pivotal role in catalyzing private investments, as well as providing bilateral aid to developing countries.