Eight steps to improve understanding of climate finance flows in your city or country

Angela Falconer, May 21, 2015

 

Understanding how much climate finance is flowing, where it comes from and how it flows to which activities and projects on the ground is not only useful at the global level to help understand progress towards climate finance goals. It can also help countries, regions, cities, and organizations to understand their progress toward meeting their own development, economic, and environmental goals by:

– Establishing a baseline against which to measure progress, reveals current patterns of investment and any blockages in the system.
– Revealing interactions between public finance and private investment which can inform decisions about how to redirect flows from business-as-usual to low-carbon and climate-resilient investments.
– Helping international partners see how they can support domestic efforts.
– Identifying opportunities to increase climate finance and providing an important basis for policymakers to develop more effective policies, particularly when combined with analysis of what is working or not in different interventions.

Climate Policy Initiative produces the most comprehensive overview of global climate finance flows available. We have also carried out in-depth mapping of climate finance flows for Germany and Indonesia. The following eight steps summarise the approach we take to map climate finance flows in different contexts. Although the process is complicated because of significant data gaps and inconsistencies, the principles behind such mapping are relatively simple. Applying them can improve understanding of climate flows. They are:

1. Decide what finance you want to measure.The first step is to decide which activities you want to focus on. For some you’ll also need to decide what makes a particular activity low-carbon or climate-resilient. This is relatively easy to do for something like renewable energy generation. However if you want to understand how much finance is flowing towards more climate-resilient, productive and sustainable land use, you will have important decisions to make on what you want to include and what you should leave out.

2. Set the geographical scale.Are you going to track finance flowing to these activities at the international, national, regional, city or organizational level?

3. Decide whether to track public finance, private investment, or both. Information on some climate finance flows (e.g. official development assistance) is easier to track than for others and there are some – like private investment in energy efficiency – where very little reliable data is available at all. But ideally a mapping exercise for a country, region, or city would include both public and private flows to the extent possible because understanding how these different sources of finance interact is essential to making best use of your financial resources.

4. Consider total investments, not just additional investment costs.Research into the additional costs of low-carbon interventions above higher-carbon alternatives is useful and has even shown that some low-carbon transitions may be cheaper than business-as-usual. But, when dealing with the practicalities of tracking and managing climate mitigation and adaptation investment for planning purposes, it is simpler to consistently track current total investment rather than additional investment costs.

5. Focus on project-level primary financing.Project-level primary financing is finance going to activities and projects on the ground and the best indicator of progress on climate action. Aggregate data does not allow the same insights as project-level data while data on secondary market transactions (e.g. refinancing, selling stocks) represents money changing hands. Such transactions can play an important role in providing project developers with capital to reinvest in further projects but they do not necessarily represent additional efforts to reduce emissions or increase climate resilience.

6. Track public framework expenditures.Many projects would be impossible without the development of national climate strategies, specific regulations and enabling environments for investment but these costs are not seen at the project level. Tracking them is important to have a real understanding of how much public finance is flowing to and needed for climate action.

7. Exclude public revenue support for projects such as feed-in tariffs and carbon credit revenues.While these revenue support mechanisms are often essential for climate action they pay back the investments made in climate-relevant projects and activities that you are already counting. Including investment costs and policy-induced revenues would therefore mean you were counting the same flows twice.

8. Exclude private investments in research and development.These are investments that private actors try to recover when selling their goods and services so counting them in addition to investment costs would, once again, mean you were counting the same flows twice.

The quality of your mapping exercise will depend on the quality of the data you have. Fragmented data in the land use sector is the reason we are working with the European Forestry Institute and Climate Focus, in an upcoming publication, to provide policymakers with a series of mapping tools to understand potential entry points for climate finance flows in their land use sectors. Often these countries are aware of the opportunities to shift from unsustainable to sustainable land use but lack financing strategies to deliver their goals. This project will help them identify which fiscal and financial mechanisms are available to unlock new investors and more efficient investments.

We are happy to assist countries, cities, or organizations looking to better understand their climate finance flows by undertaking mapping exercises, just get in touch.
 

Read More

Achieving India’s Solar Power Target Efficiently

Gireesh Shrimali, May 4, 2015

 

The government of India announced in its recent 2015-2016 Budget that it has set a target of 100GW of solar power by 2022, thirty times the existing capacity of approximately 3GW, and five times the previous target of 20GW under the 12th Five Year Plan.

Reaching this target is not going to be an easy task. Currently, the government is facing large deficits and competing budget priorities, so a cost-effective path is crucial.

Climate Policy Initiative and the Indian School of Business recently examined the costs and different policy pathways to achieving both the wind and solar power targets, in our latest report: Reaching India’s Renewable Targets Cost-Effectively. We found three key lessons for lowering the cost of achieving India’s solar power target.

First, we found that imported coal is the fossil fuel that the additional solar power would likely replace, and that a fair assessment of costs should compare the cost of electricity from renewable energy with the cost of electricity from imported coal.

A fair comparison is key to determining the cost of achieving India’s solar power target. Imported coal is the likely fossil fuel because domestic coal and natural gas are both limited in supply, and because imported coal currently accounts for 18 per cent of India’s total power generation, higher than India’s target of 15 per cent of generation from renewable energy by 2020.

Second, through our analysis, we found that solar power will be competitive with imported coal by 2019. The cost of installing solar power will continue to decrease, as developers become more efficient with experience. Meanwhile, fossil fuels will become increasingly more expensive, primarily due to inflation and increased transportation costs.

Currently, the cost of electricity from solar power is 11.79 per cent higher than from imported coal, and will require some government support from 2015 to 2019. In order to achieve a target of 20 GW of solar power by 2022, the total cost of government support would be Rs 46.97 billion, or Rs 2.71/W, under the current federal policy of accelerated depreciation.

Third, we looked at more cost-effective policy pathways, and found that government support could be significantly reduced by 96 per cent by replacing the current federal policy with reduced cost, extended tenor debt. Under reduced cost, extended tenor debt, the government would make direct loans to project developers below the commercial rate of interest for longer than the usual commercial tenor. The cost of support would fall by 96 per cent to Rs 1.81 billion, or Rs 0.1/W.

This is because, under reduced cost, extended tenor debt, the net cash outflow for the government is recovered over time since policy support is provided in the form of a loan rather than a grant. It also provides an opportunity for interest arbitrage in cases where the government lends at a higher rate of interest to the developer than its own cost of borrowing (7.8 per cent on a 10-year government bond), the net cash flows for the government are positive. Project economics are still improved as long as government rates are more attractive than current market debt rates. Lastly, when debt is cheaper, the developer can substitute equity with more debt in the project while meeting debt servicing conditions. By replacing expensive equity with cheaper debt, the overall cost of capital is reduced.

India has ambitious targets for renewable energy; however, with a limited budget, it’s important that the government take the most cost-effective policy path. Adjusting current policy to more effectively deploy solar power would help lower costs. To accelerate solar power sooner to meet the Budget 2015 goal of 100 GW, revised upwards from 20GW, the government would need to provide more financial support.

We also found that wind power is already cheaper than power from imported coal, and will remain competitive beyond 2022. The government should encourage rapid deployment of wind power through policy measures that address non-cost related barriers to wind power, for example challenges in land acquisition and delays in environmental clearances.

To read our full report, visit http://climatepolicyinitiative.org/publication/reaching-indias-renewable-energy-targets-cost-effectively/.

A version of this blog first appeared in Businessworld.

Read More

California’s New 2030 Climate Target Aims to Reduce Emissions by 40%

Dario Abramskiehn, May 1, 2015

 

This week, California Governor Jerry Brown issued an ambitious new emissions reduction target of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. It’s being lauded as one of the most aggressive climate targets in North America.

The new target is as an important step between California’s goal of reducing emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, set in an earlier executive order, and the interim target of 1990 levels by 2020, set under California law AB32 in 2006.

In 2013, AB32 launched one of its key policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet these targets – the Cap and Trade program. Unlike many such programs around the world, California’s Cap and Trade program acts as a backstop to a series of complementary policies that cover major emitting sectors in the state with the goal of returning California emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

CPI’s California Carbon Dashboard continues to offer the latest on AB32 and California’s Cap and Trade program, including current and historic carbon prices in California, emissions caps and history by sector, and relevant updates from the California Air Resources Board. It also provides a comprehensive overview of AB32 and complementary policies, as well as the role of the Cap and Trade program in meeting the emissions reduction target.

CPI analysis shows that the carbon price is making a difference. A 2014 study explored how industrial firms, which are responsible for 20% of statewide greenhouse gas emissions and are required to buy allowances to cover some of their emissions, are making decisions under the Cap and Trade Program. We focused on the cement industry, which is the largest consumer of coal in California, and found that the carbon price is making a difference in how cement firms approach business decisions about actions that would reduce emissions, such as investing in energy efficiency or switching to cleaner fuel.

It’s clear that California is well on its way to achieving the 2020 target, but meeting the 2050 target would require reducing emissions five times faster than the current pace. Governor Brown’s new 2030 target will put pressure on the state to pick up the pace. The next step is for California’s legislature to put in place a legal framework for post-2020 emissions reductions. CPI will update the California Carbon Dashboard once a post-2020 framework is in place.

Read More

How better price risk policy in Brazil could improve agricultural productivity

Clarissa Gandour, February 24, 2015

 

Clarissa Costalonga e Gandour and Pedro Hemsley co-authored this post.

In Brazil’s agricultural sector, fluctuations in crop prices that are not mitigated by insurance or public policy can hinder farmers’ productivity and income, as well as the agriculture sector’s economic growth. For example, a farmer who makes planting decisions under the expectation of high harvest prices, which then fall short, can suffer severe losses. Understanding agricultural price volatility and mitigation is important to improving relevant public policy.

As part of CPI’s series of work on how to improve agricultural productivity while reducing deforestation in Brazil, we recently looked at agricultural price volatility, current policy to mitigate price risks, and what Brazil could do differently.

Our main finding is that current policy in Brazil does not meet farmers’ needs. The policy for price risk mitigation is based on direct government intervention in the market: when prices fall below a threshold, the government takes part of total output and allocates it out of the market. In 2013, the federal budget for price risk mitigation totaled BRL 5.4 billion, with over two fifths of it being destined for government buyouts and storage expenses. However, we find this policy yields only 8.03% of total production value, or BRL 4 billion per year in gains to producers of the four most important crops in Brazil – soybean, sugarcane, maize, and coffee.

Read More

India Needs to Fix Finances to Make Renewable Energy Dreams a Reality

Gireesh Shrimali, February 16, 2015

 

Over the past few years, the government of India has set ambitious targets for wind and solar energy: current targets would see wind and solar capacity grow by 600 percent through 2022, to 60 GW and 100 GW of energy, respectively, from current cumulative installed capacity of about 25 GW. To put those numbers in perspective, 1 GW provides power for 700,000 modern homes; 160 GW would power a sizeable portion of India’s energy needs.

These targets are good for both India’s energy supply and for economic growth – a theme emphasised by US President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently in announcing their joint commitment to increasing investment in clean energy and low-carbon economic growth.

However, this task is made difficult by the government’s limited budget, which is constrained by a large fiscal deficit and multiple development priorities.

Further, markets will not provide finance to meet these targets alone. In fact, our analysis shows that the single biggest challenge to scaling up renewable energy is the cost of finance – in particular to debt. Unfavourable debt terms add 24-32 percent to the cost of renewable energy in India, compared to similar projects in the US. Domestic debt is expensive due to unfavourable macroeconomic conditions as well as underdeveloped capital markets, and foreign debt becomes expensive once hedging costs are added.

The good news is that India can address this situation in a way that also saves money for taxpayers, electricity customers, and scales up renewable energy.

Read More

By the Numbers: Tracking Finance for Low-Carbon & Climate-Resilient Development

Barbara Buchner, February 3, 2015

 

Landscape of Climate Finance 2014

 

In December 2015, countries will gather in Paris to finalize a new global agreement to tackle climate change. Decisions about how to unlock finance in support of developing countries’ low-carbon and climate-resilient development will be a central part of the talks, and understanding where the world stands in relation to these goals is a more urgent task than ever.

Climate Policy Initiative’s Global Landscape of Climate Finance 2014 offers a view of where and how climate finance is flowing, drawing together the most comprehensive information available about the scale, key actors, instruments, recipients, and uses of finance supporting climate change mitigation and adaptation outcomes.

Climate finance has fallen, mainly due to reductions in solar PV costs

Overall, the gap between the finance needed to deal with climate change and the finance delivered is growing while total climate finance has fallen for two consecutive years. This could put globally agreed temperature goals at risk and increase the likelihood of costly climate impacts.

Read More

Dear Davos: There Are Ways to Boost Investment in Better, Cleaner Growth

Barbara Buchner, January 22, 2015

 

At the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos today, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim called for proper consideration of the risks associated with investing in the high-carbon economy and for more investment in better, cleaner forms of growth.

This video interview with CPI Senior Director Barbara Buchner provides useful background for those at the WEF calling to make 2015 a year of action on climate change. In it she shares CPI’s analysis on how the world is progressing toward the investment needed to limit emissions and climate change and what current financial flows reveal about how we might unlock further investment.

Read More

Six climate finance themes out of Lima that will shape 2015

Barbara Buchner, December 17, 2014

 

Government representatives from around the world met last week in Lima, Peru to negotiate global emissions reductions as part of the annual UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP20). Once again, the need to mobilize more investment in a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy was an important point of debate.

Climate Policy Initiative’s analysis is playing a key role informing serious discussion on climate finance and finding solutions to increase the effectiveness and scale of climate finance investments. Here are the themes we saw at this COP that we feel will shape climate finance action and debate over the next year.

Entrance-to-Lima-Cop20

Entrance to Lima COP20

1. Finance is flowing but it’s not enough.

The COP20 High-Level Finance Ministerial began with a presentation of the UNFCCC’s Biennial Assessment and Overview of Climate Finance Flows 2014. This research, which draws on Climate Policy Initiative’s work to track climate finance, tracked between 340 and 650 USD billion in annual investment. As CPI has shown, this figure is far short of the need.

Global Landscape of CLimate Finance needs

Annual climate investment compared to the need

2. Governments voiced support for innovative initiatives that unlock private finance.

CPI’s analysis shows that while public finance often provides the conditions for climate investment to take place, private investors contribute the largest share of finance, year after year, in countries across the world. It also shows that public finance alone will not be enough to meet the investment need. Several government representatives spoke of the need to find innovative ways to unlock increased private investment. Representatives from Denmark, the Netherlands, the UK, and U.S. used their time on the COP plenary floor to voice support for one such initiative – The Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance – which CPI supports as its Secretariat, advancing innovative financial instruments to drive significant additional investment in developing countries.

3. The Green Climate Fund reached more than $10 billion in commitments – good progress ahead of COP21 in Paris next year.

Following the pledges from Japan, the U.S. and UK over the last weeks, Australia, Belgium, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Austria, Spain, Norway, and Canada helped the Green Climate Fund reach its $10bn goal at this COP with new pledges. These pledges to help developing nations deal with climate change are good news. They increase the chances for a global climate deal next year in Paris, and if spent wisely, can supplement domestic public resources where they fall short and drive billions in private investment toward low-carbon and climate-resilient growth.

4. Finance for adaptation is becoming a higher priority.

The Green Climate Fund restated its intention to use half of its finance for adaptation purposes. Germany also stepped up on adaptation, committing an additional 50 million euros to the Adaptation Fund. CPI’s work shows that while adaptation finance grew by 12% last year, it still falls short of the need.

 5. Tracking of climate finance continues to improve.

Following on recommendations from the UNFCCC’s Biennial Assessment and Overview of Climate Finance Flows 2014, many countries used their time on the COP20 plenary floor during the Finance Ministerial to talk about the need for an agreed-upon definition of climate finance and improved tracking systems. CPI’s analysis supports this need and shows that climate finance tracking can support countries’ attempts to formulate better policies.

 6. Economic growth and combating climate change can go hand in hand.

Last but not least – there was a growing sense that acting on climate can also spur economic growth at this year’s COP. Many experts have documented that climate change and the resulting extreme weather would have huge social and financial costs to the global economy. This year, the New Climate Economy report showed that measures that reduce climate risk can not only help to avoid a shrinking economy in the future, but can also help grow the economy, today.

 FelipeCalderon-speaks-about-New-Climate-Economy-from-COP20

President Felipe Calderón speaks about the New Climate Economy report from the COP20 plenary floor

Going into 2015, one big-picture lesson is clear – climate finance will continue to be an important focal point for those working to respond to climate change. CPI will continue to work to provide analysis that supports these discussions.

Read More

Tracking climate finance can support better policy in developed and developing countries

Jane Wilkinson, December 12, 2014

 

Climate finance tracking is one of the topics under discussion at the international climate negotiations taking place in Lima this week. Our work on tracking climate finance for countries like Germany and Indonesia and in upcoming reports for organizations has demonstrated the benefits of mapping climate finance flows. This video shares some of the insights from the recent Landscape of Public Climate Finance in Indonesia we carried out with the Ministry of Finance in Indonesia and describes how it is supporting Indonesian policymakers to develop more effective tracking systems and policies.

Read More

3 Reasons for Measured Optimism about Climate Finance

Barbara Buchner, December 4, 2014

 

A version of this blog first appeared on Responding to Climate Change: http://www.rtcc.org/2014/11/21/three-reasons-to-be-optimistic-about-climate-finance-flows/

This year’s UN climate talks opened in Lima earlier this week and for those who hope the world can avoid dangerous climate change, some major recent announcements have given cause to celebrate. Last month, the world’s two largest emitters – the U.S. and China – reached a deal to tackle emissions. Then, the U.S., Japanese, and UK governments joined others by pledging billions to the Green Climate Fund to help developing nations deal with climate change. These political announcements are clearly timed to inject momentum into the negotiations taking place in Lima. But key questions remain unanswered: What do these financial pledges mean in terms of existing investment in a low-carbon economy future? How should money be spent? And are we on the right track?

At Climate Policy Initiative, our analysis of global climate finance flows helps to identify who is investing in climate action on the ground, how, and whether investments are keeping up what is needed to transform the global economy. We have just released the latest edition of our Global Landscape of Climate Finance report. It shows global climate finance has fallen for the second year running and we are falling further behind the level of investment needed to keep global temperature rise below two degree Celsius – but reveals some positive news as well.

Firstly, that nations around the world are investing in a low-carbon future in line with national interests. Last year, climate finance investments were split almost equally between developed and developing countries, with USD 164 billion and USD 165 billion respectively. With almost three-quarters of total investments being made in their country of origin, the majority of climate finance investments are motivated by self-interest—either for governments or businesses. Motivations include increasing economic productivity and profit, meeting growing energy demand, improving energy security, reducing health costs associated with pollution, and managing climate risk including investment risks.

Secondly, that getting domestic policy settings right offers the best opportunity to unlock new investment. When policy certainty and public resources balance risks and rewards effectively, private money follows. In 2013, private investments made up 58% of global climate finance with the vast majority (90%) of these being made at home where the risk to reward ratio is perceived relatively favorably. Addressing the needs of domestic investors offers the greatest potential to unlock investment at the necessary scale. This is not to say that international and domestic public policies, support and finance don’t have complementary roles to play. It is significant, for instance, that almost all of the developed to developing country finance we capture in our inventory of climate finance flows came from public actors. But ultimately, it is getting domestic policy frameworks right, with international support where appropriate, that will drive most of the necessary investment from domestic and international sources.

Thirdly, that despite a fall in overall investment, money is going further than ever. While investment fell for the second year running, this is largely because of decreased private investment resulting from falling costs of solar PV and other renewable energy technologies. In some cases, deployment of these technologies is staying steady or even growing, even though finance is shrinking. In 2013, investment in solar fell by 14% but deployment increased by 30%. Technological innovation is reducing costs and because of this renewable energy investments in some markets are cheaper than the fossil fuel alternatives, particularly in Latin America. Achieving more output for less input is one of the basic foundations of economic growth, so this is great news. From solar PV, to energy efficiency and agricultural productivity, growing numbers of low-carbon investments are competing with or cheaper than their high-carbon counterparts. This despite a highly uneven playing field in which global subsidies to fossil fuels continue to dwarf support for renewables and where carbon prices do not reflect the true costs of emitting CO2.

So what do our findings mean for the recent China/U.S. deal and Green Climate Fund pledges? Increasing political pressure on other countries to keep pace in terms of their domestic action and international commitments is an encouraging sign as the deadline nears for finalizing a new global climate agreement in Paris just one year from now. Reaching a global accord offers the best prospect for tackling climate change. But we must recognize that international agreements are themselves, guided by collective national interests. There is clear recognition that international public resources should complement and supplement national resources where these are insufficient. But if we are to bridge the investment gap they should also be focused on finding ways to lower costs, boost returns and reduce risks for private actors. Public finance alone will not be enough to meet the climate finance challenge.

Many private investors are ready to act. In September, over 300 institutional investors from around the world representing over $24 trillion in assets called on government leaders to phase out fossil fuel subsidies and implement the kind of carbon pricing policies that will enable them to redirect trillions to investments compatible with fighting climate change. Businesses and citizens are investing, and technological innovation means more and more investments are making economic and environmental sense. Accompanying innovation with policy, appropriately targeted finance and new business models can build the momentum and economies of scale to make the low-carbon transition achievable. The low-carbon transition isn’t just a way of reducing climate risk, it also represents a huge investment opportunity.

Read More