Increased understanding of how finance is mobilized can support efforts to spend resources wisely
Developed countries’ goal to ‘mobilize’ USD 100 billion per year by 2020 to address the climate action needs of developing countries will not close the global climate finance investment gap. However, it is an important political benchmark for assessing progress on climate finance within the context of multilateral negotiations. This provides policy makers with both challenges and opportunities.
On one side, reaching more consistent definitions for climate finance and eligible activities will be politically challenging. However doing so could promote transparency and help build trust between countries.
On the other, close scrutiny of the USD 100 billion could help to maximise its impact and help policymakers everywhere to learn lessons about what works and what works better in terms of ensuring international and national public resources drive private investment in climate action.
One word in the negotiating texts best encapsulates both the challenge and the opportunity – ‘mobilize’. The goal to ‘mobilize’ USD 100 billion a year was originally set at the international negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009. Last year’s Paris Agreement also refers to a ‘collective mobilization goal.’
CPI has helped to unpack the diversity of opinions about how this term should be applied. However, few disagree that in part this ‘collective mobilization goal’ is a recognition that implementing countries’ nationally determined contributions will require trillions not billions of dollars. To make this shift, public finance must be catalytic, driving private investment by tackling viability, risk and knowledge gaps that private actors cannot or are unwilling to bear.
In some sectors and markets, this means public finance will need to play more of a leading role in discovering, developing, and piloting new technologies and approaches that do not yet deliver returns sufficient to satisfy private investors, or which are perceived as having unmanageable risks.
Initiatives and studies from a range of organizations have explored different methodological approaches to estimate the extent to which public climate finance, support or policy can be said to have ’mobilized’ private climate-related investments. These include the co-financing approach proposed by multilateral development banks (MDBs), the methodology of the Technical Working Group composed of donors from the OECD member countries that was applied by the OECD and CPI in the “Climate Finance in 2013-14 and the USD 100 billion goal” report, and a CPI report on mobilized private finance for adaptation which explored the legitimacy and feasibility of measuring the more “indirect” impacts of public finance and support on mobilizing finance.
The accounting methods and data provided in these reports are helping countries and individual actors to understand two things. Firstly, what is being counted and what is being excluded in different ’mobilization’ approaches. Secondly, the complex interplay between different sources of finance and the range of actors and instruments involved in its delivery – work that CPI has led since 2010.
The Paris Agreement may also help. It charges the UNFCCC’s Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) with developing accounting guidelines for national-level reporting by 2018 to support better tracking of finance provided and ‘mobilized’ through public interventions.
Reaching agreement will be a complex, technical and politically challenging exercise for the SBSTA but will build on existing work to further enhance transparency around domestic climate finance and allow decision-makers to assess more easily the role different actors in the financial system play in achieving overarching economic and environmental goals.
CPI remains committed to supporting this process and to improving decision makers’ understanding of climate finance flows at the global, national and local levels.
Since 2010, CPI has supported decision makers from the public and private sectors, at international, national and local levels, to define and track how climate finance is flowing from sources and actors, through a range of financial instruments, to recipients and end uses. Providing decision makers with robust and comprehensive information helps them to assess progress against real investment goals and needs. It also improves understanding of how public policy, finance and support interact with, and drive climate-relevant investment from diverse private actors, and where opportunities exist to achieve greater scale and impact.