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The concept of Climate Finance

The origins of the concept of climate finance in the context of the UN climate negotiations and the UNFCCC Agreement to provide it.

The concept of climate finance has existed for many years. It was first set out at the first UNFCCC meeting in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, where the agreement reads, ‘that developed countries shall provide “new and additional financial resources” to developing countries to support meeting the full and incremental costs of climate change.’

This commitment acknowledges the need to support developing countries in their efforts to limit the causes of climate change whilst also adapting to its impacts. However, despite initiating the term ‘new and additional’, there has been no agreed definition on what that really means, and how it relates to existing flows of support to developing countries. CAN Europe understands that climate finance should be financial support provided over and above existing aid in order for developing countries to deal with the additional challenges and problems presented by climate change.

Over the years, the initial concept set out in Rio 1992 has been altered and expanded to include various sources of financial support, including private finance and domestically sourced finance. The UN climate negotiations continue to discuss and debate under these notions; at present, Parties are analysing how to reach the target of providing US $100 billion per year by 2020 in climate finance to developing countries. This target was set in the Copenhagen Accord, which further states that finance can come from a ‘wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance’.

This commitment was further built on through the establishment of a specific global fund for climate action, called the Green Climate Fund. Additionally, the commitment to reach the US $100 billion target has been re-iterated in the recent adopted Paris Agreement; “Developed country Parties shall provide financial resources to assist developing country Parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation in continuation of their existing obligations under the Convention”.

CAN Europe believes that climate finance provisions need to be ambitious and steadily increased to enable developing countries to enhance their ambition beyond what they can do with domestic resources, laying out the mitigation potential that could be unlocked with scaled-up financial resources. Also, developing countries, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable countries, will require increasing amounts of financial support to adapt to a changing climate and cope with the impacts.
For more information on CAN’s position please see CAN International’s position on finance for COP21 & submission on accounting climate finance.

Latest Publications

  • Letter to EU ministers on climate and environmental action in development funding

    Ahead of Foreign Affairs Council on 16 May, Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, Oxfam EU, ACT Alliance EU, Conservation International and Wetlands International write to EU ministers to highlight how the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) can support developing countries to scale up climate and environmental action and support biodiversity, fostering sustainable development.
  • Money Talks - 6th Annual Report by Serbia's Coalition 27: Environment & Climate Change

    "Money talks" is the 6th anual shaddow progress report by Serbia-based Coalition 27, group of dozen most prominent civil society organisations committed to monitoring and reporting on the country's progress in preparations for EU membership talks on environmnet and climate change - topics covered by Chapter 27 of the EU accession negotiations.
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