The objectives laid out in the Paris Agreement are visionary but not overambitious as they build on trends already happening in reality. The agreement’s guiding star is the science-based goal of limiting temperature rise to ‘below 2 degrees Celsius’. In combination with the mention of 1.5 degrees Celsius, this goal sends a clear signal, giving governments and businesses an incentive to escalate efforts to decarbonise their economies, supply chains and business models. Even more importantly for business, this deal has teeth. It includes a mechanism to ramp up action every five years, starting in 2018, and importantly, does not allow backsliding.
A strong signal steering investors away from fossil fuels, towards sustainable growth
For business and investors, it means the direction of travel is clear and with appropriate support it is time to seize the opportunities on offer. “This is one of the greatest wealth opportunities in human history,” says Jigar Shah of Generate Capital. The Paris Agreement also signals that investment in fossil fuels is no longer a low-risk enterprise – or, as Anthony Hobley, CEO of The Carbon Tracker Initiative, puts it, “[it] tells markets the fossil fuel era is over.”
The Agreement also builds the case for both public and private actors to explore low-carbon and climate-resilient options. For developing countries and emerging economies and their partners, the clear message is that growth without sustainability is off the table, whereas sustainable growth is a win for climate and development. As Hillary Clinton, former United States Secretary of State, says, “We don’t have to choose between economic growth and protecting our planet – we can do both.”
Many investors are already on board
CPI’s Global Landscape for Climate Finance estimated USD 391 billion in primary investment flows in 2014, up 18% from the previous year. Private investment surged 26% from 2013, reaching 62% of total global investment in climate action driven largely by falling renewable technology costs supported by government measures.
The Paris Agreement means that these investors and project developers who have already started transitioning their business models can now have the confidence to continue shifting their assets, in order to avoid stranding their own portfolios.
From ambition to action: the critical role of national policy
However, right now the bulk of climate investment (74%) originates and is spent in the same place, whether in developed or developing countries. This indicates there is still work to do to scale up finance that crosses borders, and our research indicates that policy frameworks and enabling environments are the first prerequisite. As Felipe Calderon, former President of Mexico, says, “The next step is for governments to turn their commitments into national policy.”
Building confidence for the next five years through enhanced transparency
Developed countries must continue to take the lead in implementing the world’s first universal binding climate agreement. Building confidence that commitments outlined in the agreement are being met is key, and transparency is critical to this goal. Transparency on progress toward the commitment to continue to mobilize at least USD 100 billion per year from 2020 onwards is a case in point, and here work remains to be done. The OECD Report done in collaboration with CPI on progress toward the USD 100 billion was the first serious attempt to estimate public and private finance mobilized by developed countries’ interventions in developing countries by applying a transparent accounting framework. CPI welcomes the fact the Paris Agreement puts efforts to increase consensus and transparency on this and other climate finance issues at the centre of its work plan going forward.
Such transparency can help ensure confidence that finance is flowing from north to south, and to the right technologies, and that private investors are being mobilised in line with country interests. As countries move from negotiations to implementation, CPI stands ready to support their efforts.