Financial institutions identify opportunities to accelerate climate action

, June 2017

 

This week, we posted an in-depth summary of the main insights from this year’s San Giorgio Group, a CPI event organized in collaboration with the World Bank Group, China Light Power (CLP) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and kindly hosted by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei. The San Giorgio Group brings together key financial institutions actively engaged in green, low-emissions finance for frank discussions on the most pressing policy and investment issues related to scaling up climate action. Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. We have made a lot of progress in recent years on getting a clearer idea of climate finance flows, and of investment risks related to climate change, through efforts by CPI and other groups. However, there are still data gaps. These are particularly prevalent for adaptation finance, as well as in defining mobilization of climate finance and understanding more broadly how to track progress towards implementation of the Paris Agreement. The main challenge remains to make tracking helpful for decision makers and to ensure that they have ownership of it. There is a need to further integrate climate change considerations into daily decision-making and the financial system more generally, to enable investors to understand both the risks and opportunities related to climate change. Legislation such as France’s recent climate-reporting law, which introduces mandatory climate change-related reporting for institutional investors, will enable investors to access data on companies’ climate risks and use this information to allocate capital. In this vein, balancing the need for robust disclosure data and tools and the need for simple, comparable, and standardized formats will be key. It is clear that the discussions started in the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, which aim to create one set of standardized metrics for climate reporting, will need to continue. Elsewhere, national-level data and tracking is an important starting point to realign public budgets and incentives to promote climate action particularly if it is tailored to countries’ own definitions and accounting systems.
  • Green banks or greening banks? There was a consensus among San Giorgio Group attendees on the importance of refocusing attention on domestic actors, especially in light of national commitments made as part of the Paris Agreement and given the fact that most green investment is raised and spent domestically. There was a discussion of whether new entities such as green banks are needed, or whether mainstreaming climate considerations into existing institutions’ practices can address the current climate finance gap. In many countries, the latter may prove more efficient. Additionally, streamlining international climate finance architecture to reduce overlaps, improve efficiencies, and channel more finance through domestic organizations could increase the effectiveness of the system as a whole.
  • Cities need better access to finance but for new technologies. Many of the actions needed to prevent dangerous temperature rise and adapt to climate change involve cities. Cities and their many layers of decision-making present a challenge but also a huge investment opportunity. There was a consensus among San Giorgio Group attendees on the need to increase cities’ access to finance and better target city-relevant solutions, and discussion on whether there is an opportunity for cities to leapfrog to better, more innovative technologies.
  • With the right investment products and a pipeline of bankable projects, investors are ready to act on climate. The investment needs for transitioning to low-carbon, resilient economies are such that public finance alone will never be enough. Green growth requires increased finance from mainstream private investors, some of whom already invest at significant levels in some green technologies in some countries. There is capital available and many investors looking for opportunities. Innovative financial instruments that blend public and private finance will help but simplicity, scale, and speed are essential.
 

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