By Martin Stadelmann and Timmons Roberts
Today, the U.N. has published a “clarification note” where it explains that the actual number for North-South climate finance may be closer to the lower bound of the $40-175 billion mentioned in its“Biennial Assessment and Overview of Climate Finance Flows” report. That report, released at the U.N. negotiations in Lima, Peru in December, was a landmark in assessing climate finance flows, and a valuable effort to support discussions during this pivotal year for global climate politics.
This is an important clarification. According to our own estimates, the actual number for North-South climate finance is clearly closer to $40 than $175 billion. The upper bound of the original U.N. estimate relied on a private climate finance number ($27-123 billion) in our paper “Difficulties in accounting for private finance in international climate policy,” which actually refers to all private finance in the global south that is “mobilized by developed country governments”(e.g. through carbon markets or development banks)—not private finance flowing North-to-South. That is an important difference. Estimates for North-South flows both in our paper and the last two editions of Climate Policy Initiative’s Global Landscape of Climate Finance are much lower than the figures cited by the U.N. report (see Figure 1). Our own 2013 estimate for North-South private climate finance flows was $10-37 billion, comprising foreign direct investment for renewable energy, recycling, and environmental technology manufacturing.
If we take the $2-37 billion range for North-South private finance according to existing estimates (see Figure 1) and add the U.N. estimate of $35-50 billion for North-South public finance (see Figure 2), total North-South climate finance is somewhere between $37 billion and $87 billion, clearly closer to the lower bound of the U.N. estimate of $40-175 billion, and certainly less than half of the upper bound.
The consequences of confusion around climate finance numbers are illustrated by the articles and blogs around the world that reported on the U.N. committee’s figures. Reutersreported that “Those numbers suggest the world may not be as far off track in meeting the $100 billion goal as previously thought.” India’s Financial Express reported that a Finance Ministry official “refuted the numbers.” The leading Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitungran a front-page article citing the number.
Countries will meet in Paris at the end of this year to adopt a global climate deal and again, the progress towards the commitment of industrialized countries to mobilize $100 billion per year by 2020 will be a key part of the negotiations. What happens if industrialized countries communicate, based on North-South numbers released in the U.N. report, that they are already on track to meet their $100 billion commitment, or already past the goal? Efforts and negotiations during this critical year could then be misdirected. The international community might realize only years later not just that the $100 billion commitment may not be met, but also that they are far from the investment required to provide a decent chance of avoiding dangerous climate change. Analysis of the International Energy Agency shows that the additional investment needed for clean energy alone is at least $5 trillion through 2020.
Achieving clarity around these issues will not be easy. The Biennial Assessment and Overview of Climate Finance Flows acknowledges the profound methodological challenges in defining and measuring climate finance. Its summary begins by describing the lack of a common approach in this area: “The report encountered challenges in collecting, aggregating and analyzing information from diverse sources. For example, each of these sources uses its own definition of climate finance and its own systems and methodologies for reporting…”
The first steps in addressing a problem are identifying it and developing a plan to get on track, so we salute this report as a landmark for raising these crucial issues of accounting for climate finance. Three fundamentals are needed to improve clarity around these issues: (1) a clear definition of what “mobilized climate finance” is; (2) an adequate methodology to allow for monitoring and reporting private finance flows; and (3) an audit of private investments claimed, and their effectiveness in driving low-carbon and climate-resilient development.
At stake is whether climate finance can be a building block for an adequate agreement this year in Paris, and the fate of follow-up agreements in the years to come. The U.N. clarification opens the way for realistic planning during this crucial year.
By Camila Bustos
On February 13th and 14th, the world is celebrating Global Divestment Day. On these two days, we are demanding individuals and institutions around the world to lead on climate change by removing their investments from the fossil fuel industry.
After only a few years since the fossil fuel divestment movement began, there are now more than 700 campaigns around the world. The movement is growing faster than any previous divestment campaign, posing a significant threat to fossil fuel companies.
Por Guy Edwards
La relación en evolución entre Latinoamérica y China fue el tema central en la reciente III Cumbre de la Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños (CELAC) en Costa Rica, realizada tras el primer Foro China-CELAC llevado a cabo en Pekín en enero, considerado como una significativa ampliación de su asociación.
Pero mientras los países latinoamericanos destacan cada vez más al gigante asiático como un importante inversor y socio comercial en la región, existe un aspecto oscuro en las relaciones entre China y Latinoamérica.
By Guy Edwards
Latin America’s evolving relationship with China was a central theme at the recent III Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Costa Rica last month. This followed the first China-CELAC Forum held in Beijing in January which is regarded as a significant upgrade to their partnership.
But while Latin American countries increasingly court the Asian giant as a major trade and investment partner in the region, there is another side to Chinese-Latin American relations.
The Countdown to the 2015 UN Climate Summit in Paris: Assessing Latin America’s Importance and Leadership
Wednesday February 25, 2015 - 09:30 AM – 11:30 AM (EST), Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University, 111 Thayer Street, Providence, Rhode Island
The event will focus on the state of the U.N. climate negotiations before the deadline this December in Paris to create a new global climate change agreement. Experts from Latin America will assess the region’s importance and leadership on global and national climate governance in the wake of Peru hosting the 2014 U.N. climate conference and the prospects for a new agreement this year. Speakers will also look at Latin American countries’ efforts to prepare their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) which will be a key element of a new climate agreement.
The event is being organized by Brown University’s Climate and Development Lab at the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the Watson Institute. It is funded by the Fundación Botín.
The event will be live streamed: https://mediacapture.brown.edu:8443/ess/echo/presentation/ad7ac252-213f-47fb-8226-5ba875b6bc46
Follow the discussion via Twitter #LACC2020
Walter Vergara, Senior Fellow, World Resources Institute and former head of the Inter-American Development Bank’s climate change unit
Mariana Panuncio, Climate Change Director, Latin America and Caribbean Program, WWF
Jorge Gastelumendi, Senior Policy Advisor on Climate Change, The Nature Conservancy and Peru’s COP20 delegation
Timmons Roberts, Ittleson Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies and co-director of the Climate and Development Lab, Institute at Brown for the Environment and Society and Watson Faculty Fellow
Guy Edwards, Research Fellow and co-director of the Climate and Development Lab, Institute at Brown for the Environment and Society
By Guy Edwards and Timmons Roberts
When it comes to climate change, Latin American citizens and their leaders get the big picture. According to surveys, the region’s citizens are very worried about global warming, and its leaders frequently cite climate change as a major national security threat at United Nations conferences.
However, the consensus appears to largely end there. National positions and strategies on how to confront climate change diverge markedly in a region known for paying lip service to solidarity and harmony. The lack of a unified voice is underscored by the inconsistencies between the promises made and actual actions taken by Latin American governments to ameliorate the effects of global warming.
By Guy Edwards
Latin America’s evolving relationship with China is a central theme at this week’s Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Costa Rica. This follows the first China-CELAC Forum held in Beijing earlier this month which is regarded as a significant upgrade to their partnership.
By Guy Edwards and Timmons Roberts
As leaders settle in for the III Summit of the Community of Latin and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Costa Rica this week poverty is the main issue on the agenda. This comes as the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean reports that the decline in poverty has stalled in the region, while extreme poverty has edged upwards in the wake of an economic slowdown.
Por el Laboratorio de Clima y Desarrollo
Un nuevo informe del CDL en colaboración con CAN-LA explora la relación entre las políticas energéticas y los esfuerzos para reducir emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero (GEI) en cinco países.