Tag Archives: developing countries

Increased understanding of how finance is mobilized can support efforts to spend resources wisely

November 16, 2016 |


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.

This blog is part of a series on climate finance tracking challenges. Read more here.

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CPI analysis supports C40 call for action on increasing cities’ access to climate finance

October 19, 2016 | and


This week at Habitat III in Quito, Ecuador, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) is making a call for action on municipal infrastructure finance, highlighting the financing needs of cities and their key role in driving sustainable, low-carbon and resilient growth.

Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) endorsed this call to action as part of our work to support cities’ access to climate finance and to help them achieve value for money. In the last year, we worked with the Cities Climate Finance Leadership Alliance to publish its State of City Climate Finance 2015 report and are currently analysing the green bond markets in order to develop guidelines for cities in developing countries to raise climate finance from this fast growing source of climate finance. This second piece of work is part of the Green Bonds for Cities project.

Our work supports C40 findings. For instance, C40’s call to action identifies multilateral and bilateral development banks as important actors in responding to city needs. Our analysis finds that taken together DFIs provide 94% of all green bond flows to cities in developing countries and multilateral and bilateral DFIs provide 82% of all green bond finance channelled to developing countries in general.

There are other possibilities for cities to tap green bond finance flows, however, aside from cities issuing their own bonds. National development banks provide an interesting option, for instance. While multilateral DFIs were the first to direct green bond flows to developing countries, domestic DFIs such as national development banks (NDBs) are now providing a growing share, now up to 18% of flows.

Green Bond DFI Flows to Developing Countries

The market is changing elsewhere too. Development finance institutions were the sole providers of green bond finance to developing countries from 2008-2013 but domestic corporates in the renewable energy sector have since begun to issue bonds. They have been joined by commercial banks from China and India which have linked the finance raised to green loans. City or municipal-based infrastructure development companies also commonly raise finance for cities in developing countries such as China, often with central government guarantees.

Global green bond market flows to developing countries

Our market analysis will feed into guidelines for city administrators and stakeholders in developing countries on how to access increased finance from the green bonds market. In the coming weeks, CPI and partners working on the Green Bonds for Cities project will provide toolkits and training sessions. The project is funded as part of the Low-Carbon City Lab (LoCaL) under Climate KIC.

CPI will also soon publish analysis looking into the role of NDBs in supporting implementation of nationally determined contributions. Sign up here for updates on these and other projects.

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Understanding green bond data can help cities in developing countries tap the market

September 6, 2016 |


The population in developing and emerging countries is urbanizing at three times the rate of developed countries. But cities in the ‘Global South’ have limited access to capital to invest in water, energy, housing and transportation systems to meet the needs of growing urban populations.

Many of them raise capital through local banking sectors whose loan terms are often unsuitable for funding new infrastructure. Capital markets offer an alternative source of cheaper and longer-term finance but less than 20% of cities in developing countries have access to local capital markets and only 4% have access to international capital markets.

In recent years, green bond markets have emerged as a new way for investors in the capital markets to access sustainable investments. Cities have taken note. European cities in France and Sweden have been issuing green bonds since 2012. Municipalities in the US have a long track record of raising low-cost debt in the municipal bond market but only recently have begun to label bonds as ‘green’ in order to meet this demand signal from investors.

So how much finance has flowed from green bond markets to cities in developing countries?

Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) analysis shown in the chart below shows that approximately USD 2.2 billion of total flows in the green bond market have been directed towards cities in developing countries (“the South”) compared to USD 17 billion in developed countries (“the North”).

Global green bond market flows

The figure below breaks down the sources of those flows to cities in the North and South. Cities in the North mainly use their own municipal (MUNI) issuance power (84%) but also benefit from Development Finance Institutions (DFI) linking city-based projects to their green bonds (13%) while cities in the developing countries in contrast rely almost entirely on DFIs to raise finance for their projects (94%).

To date, Johannesburg’s USD 137 million bond is the only municipal green bond issued in developing countries. Important work to help address this imbalance is underway. It aims to develop local capital markets and improve the creditworthiness of cities.

But if a city cannot issue bonds, what is the potential of other channels open to them to access finance from green bond markets? Helping local governments and city administrators in developing countries to identify these channels and increase their access to the green bond markets is one way to close this investment gap. This is why CPI is contributing analysis and developing guidelines for accessing the green bond markets as part of the Green Bonds for Cities project.

Our analysis shows the sources of green bond market flows to developing countries are diversifying.

Since 2008, USD 39 billion has been directed to projects or activities in developing countries. From 2008-2013, this consisted entirely of flows from Development Finance Institutions but, from 2014, domestic corporate issuance began to grow and was then joined by issuance from commercial banks from China and India in 2016.

Global green bond market flows to developing countries

Clearly, cities don’t necessarily need to issue their own bonds to tap the green bond market. City or municipal-based infrastructure development companies could provide one option for them to do so. Such companies commonly raise finance in developing countries such as China, often with central government guarantees.

Public-private partnerships with corporations or commercial banking institutions could help cities leverage their green bond issuances for new infrastructure developments.

Perhaps the avenue with the most significant potential is through domestic, bilateral and multilateral development finance institutions (DFIs). DFIs could scale up their own green bond mandates to increase support for city-based infrastructure in developing countries, work to source and help finance projects, and eventually support cities to issue their own bonds through guarantees or other risk mitigation instruments.

Green Bond DFI Flows to North and South

The chart above reveals three interesting insights into DFIs’ green bond issuance:

  • Domestic DFIs in developing countries, such as NAFIN in Mexico and the Agricultural Bank of China, already account for 18% of total flows from DFIs’ green bonds to the South. They could provide a potential source of collaboration for cities.
  • Multilateral DFIs such as the World Bank, EIB, ADB and AfDB currently only link USD 2 billion of the USD 18 billion flowing to the south to city-based projects. There is potential to scale-up.
  • In combination, multilateral and bilateral DFIs such as EIB, EBRD and KfW’s send more green bond flows to projects in the North than the South. USD 25 billion of flows goes to the North versus USD 21 billion of flows to projects in the South.

CPI’s analysis will inform guidelines for city administrators and stakeholders in developing countries on how to develop a market access strategy for the Green Bonds for Cities project. From autumn 2016, this project will provide toolkits and training sessions with the aim of expanding green bond market flows to cities in the South.
CPI is working with South Pole Group on this in collaboration with ICLEI and Climate Bonds Initiative. The project is funded as part of the Low-Carbon City Lab (LoCaL) under Climate KIC.

This op-ed was originally published on Environmental Finance.

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Two policy improvements to drive more renewable energy deployment through mini-grids in Uttar Pradesh, India

April 26, 2016 | and


This post is co-authored by Stephen Comello, Associate Director of the Sustainable Energy Initiative at Stanford Graduate School of Business and a Research Fellow at the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance.

With about 80 million households across rural India lacking access to electricity, the country’s policymakers have been searching for solutions to close this development gap. At the same time, the public-sector electricity distribution companies (DISCOMs) are unable to systematically extend the central grid to where it is needed.

Off-grid alternatives include kerosene lanterns and small, individual home solar systems. However, another alternative, called mini-grids, offers what these lanterns and small solar systems cannot ­­– the promise of at-scale, off-grid electrification with productive capacity; that is, the ability to simultaneously power multiple loads such as lighting, tools, appliances and machinery.

A mini-grid is a group of interconnected loads and distributed energy resources that acts as a single entity. On a per unit basis, mini-grids offer electricity at least 50% lower life-cycle cost than diesel generators, kerosene lanterns and individual home systems. Moreover, mini-grid development could spur entrepreneurship and local business opportunities in the energy sector.

Enabling mini-grid development by the private sector is mainly the purview of the State Energy Boards (SEBs) across India. While the central government has developed national mini-grid guidance, clear policy that creates the mini-grid market must originate with the state governments. Formation of such a policy is a delicate balance, as there are multiple significant barriers to mini-grid development, such as financing, revenue collection and system maintenance. Most of these hurdles can be overcome with well-formed business models, supported by effective policies.

Uttar Pradesh (UP), which has some of the lowest electricity access rates in the country, has recently announced a promising first-of-its-kind new policy promoting mini-grids, which could set the benchmark for other states to follow.

Mini-grids in Uttar Pradesh Photo credit: Flickr user sandeepachetan

The policy offers developers flexibility with respect to the general business model to be pursued through the choice of two models. Model 1 offers a 30% capital subsidy, in exchange for the DISCOM regulating project location, mini-grid technical specification, the service level, and, customer-wise tariff rates. Model 2 is arguably the diametric opposite; no subsidy offered, with the developer free to choose location, technology service level and rate charged. Given the flexibility, there has been great interest in Model 2, with 85% of applications made under this scheme.

The policy also provides guidance with respect to the key risk for mini-grids – the threat of central grid extension. There have been multiple instances where the central grid eventually extended to a mini-grid and forced the operator out because entrepreneurs couldn’t compete with DISCOMs’ highly subsidized rates. This situation is known as a hold-up problem, where a developer is deterred from making any investment, given the lack of safeguards to provide the confidence of earning an appropriate return.

The UP policy specifies that if or when the central grid extends to the mini-grid, mini-grid electricity would be purchased by the DISCOM at “the tariff decided by UP Electricity Regulatory Commission or a tariff decided on mutual consent”, and “based on the cost-benefit analysis of the installed project, the project will be transferred to the DISCOM at the cost determined on mutual consent between DISCOM and developer by the estimation of cost (or profit loss) of the project installed by the developer.”

Unfortunately, the UP policy does not fully address the hold-up problem, primarily because of the ambiguity faced by the developer in terms of securing his investment at the time of central grid extension. Specifically, the prospect of the stated “cost-benefit analysis of the installed project”, provides no guidance or methodology necessary for a developer to understand the expected value of the mini-grid in the event of grid extension before the initial investment is made. This raises concerns about the effectiveness of the policy in deploying mini-grid capacity.

Thankfully, based on a recent study at Stanford Graduate School of Business, this policy gap can be closed with two amendments which ensure that the entrepreneur would be indifferent between the event of grid extension and continuing as an independent operator.

First, the entrepreneur should have the unilateral right to transfer ownership of all distribution and generation assets of the mini-grid to the DISCOM.

Second, the transaction price must be given by the current book value of these assets. The book value must be calculated so as to reflect economic fundamentals, based on the concept of replacement cost accounting. What this means is that if revenues are set so as to cover all operating costs, depreciation and a fair return, the developer will be indifferent between receiving a one-time buyout of the mini-grid equal to current book value, or continuing to operate the mini-grid.

Taken together, these amendments would significantly improve UP’s mini-grid policy, leading to UP maximizing mini-grid investment and, therefore, deployment. The success of UP’s mini-grid policy would send a positive signal to other states, and enable them to help India move towards its off-grid deployment targets of 3 GW.

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From Talking the Talk to Walking the Walk on Climate Finance

April 18, 2016 |


After Paris – The need to move from talk to action

The Paris Agreement reached by 194 countries at the COP21 Climate Summit in December 2015 marks a historic turning point in a 20-year conversation about how to tackle climate change. Up to this point, there have been examples of incremental progress, though the overarching policy ambition necessary to curb climate change have been slow to come. The need to act is urgent in order to keep global temperature rise to ‘well below 2 degrees C,’ the stated goal of the Paris Agreement.

How to finance the transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient world is a challenging question, especially for developing countries, which often lack the policy and financial capacity needed to spur the necessary investment.

Climate Finance

Since 2009, developed countries have been working to scale up climate finance for developing nations, with a goal to mobilize USD 100 billion per year from multiple sources. The good news is that investment is growing – especially in key emerging economies such as China. According to the Global Landscape of Climate Finance, 2015 saw the largest amount of climate-related investment to date, with USD 391 billion of finance flowing to mitigation and adaption globally. In the lead up to Paris, the OECD, in collaboration with CPI found that countries are well on their way to achieving this goal, with an average of USD 57 billion of mobilized climate finance flowing from developed to developing countries in 2013-14.

While progress is certainly being made, the IEA estimates that approximately USD 16.5 trillion will be required from 2015-2030 to re-orient global systems to a scenario consistent with a sub 2-degree future. The need to pick up the pace and move from talk to the most concrete of actions is what defines the post-Paris world. The challenge of bridging this gap is profound, and will require concerted efforts from private and public actors, households around the world, and civil society. It will require an understanding of the actual barriers faced by all types and classes of investors, and the use of public policies and finance to minimize these. This in turn necessitates political will, robust technical analysis, and above all, innovation.

Crowdsourcing Innovation for Climate Finance

The Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance (The Lab) supports efforts to leverage investment flows to the developing world to speed up the transition to a low-carbon future by identifying, developing and piloting new financial instruments and public-private partnerships designed to overcome barriers, maximize impact, and attract private sector capital. The Lab crowd-sources ideas from the global climate finance community, including private and public investors, financial institutions, technical experts, and policy makers. Then, incorporating the guidance of a diverse set of advisors and external experts, the Lab develops, stress-tests, and refines the best of these ideas into innovative, instruments with financial backing for concrete pilots on the ground.

The approach is simple – solving the climate finance challenge, and addressing climate change on a broader level, will require bold collaboration and innovation that spans actors and sectors. Successful pilots can be scaled to incorporate larger investments, new investors, other sectors and geographies.

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Driving geothermal development in developing countries

August 26, 2015 |


Geothermal has the potential to play a big role in a low-carbon energy transition but while deployment of wind and solar has taken off in recent years, deployment of geothermal has remained steady but unspectacular for decades. This despite the fact that it is broadly cost competitive with fossil fuel alternatives across the world and is the cheapest source of available power in some developing countries with rapidly growing energy demand.

Among developing countries, only Turkey and Kenya exceeded forecasts for geothermal deployment over the last five years. Elsewhere, over 3GW of power has been left in the ground, mainly in Indonesia and the Philippines but also in new markets such as Chile and Ethiopia.

We estimate that approximately USD 133 billion would be needed for investment in geothermal in developing countries if current plans to build 23 GW of capacity by 2030 are to be met. The scarcity of public finance available for geothermal in these countries is a barrier to achieving these targets but private investment could fill this gap. Many governments in countries with significant resources have liberalized energy and electricity markets and this could result in an investment opportunity of USD 60-77 billion, with average returns on equity of 14-16% if the main project related risks are addressed.

Our analysis, commissioned by the Climate Investment Funds to improve understanding of the role of public finance in different developing countries, suggests that governments and development finance institutions would need to provide the rest of the USD 133 billion in the form of financing and risk mitigation tools needed to attract private investment in these countries.

This requires a 7-10 fold increase in current allocations of public money to the sector for future development. In addition, while significant efforts at the global level to increase public finance commitments for the early stages of geothermal project development mean they now account for 11% of current commitments, in order to meet demand, finance allocated to this stage of projects should be up to 17% of public finance distributed and targeted particularly at the test drilling phase. Part of current public finance could also be refocused on the management of resource risk during the later stages of project operations.

In our most recent report, we draw lessons from a year of analysis of geothermal projects and markets in developing countries to identify how public finance from governments and development finance institutions can be used to best drive private investment. Key factors include:

  • Supportive regulatory frameworks for geothermal, the basic condition for growth together with well-designed feed-in-tariffs aligned with the project‘s lifetime or loan terms available in the local debt market
  • Differentiated public support during the exploration phase, supporting early public exploration and tendering of proven fields in markets with challenging investment environments, while incentivizing early stage exploration in more mature private markets
  • Favorable loan conditions and measures to unlock its provision

Following these recommendations could increase energy access and put those developing countries with geothermal resources on a path to green growth. Our case studies of geothermal projects suggest this can be done without increasing the levelized cost of electricity generated, and thus power tariffs for consumers. When national and international public measures lower financing costs and address specific political, currency and exploration risks relevant for the private sector, private development models can deliver power at similar or lower cost than public development models. This allows governments to increase energy supply and access while committing only 15-35% of what they would invest were they to develop the whole project through local public utilities, freeing resources for further investment. This is something that should be at the forefront of the minds of national energy policymakers and the development banks that support them.

A version of this blog first appeared as an opinion piece on Environmental Finance.

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