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International Development Finance Club Commits $89 Billion to Climate Finance in 2013

The International Development Finance Club (IDFC)—a group of international, national, and regional development banks based in the developed and the developing world—released its annual report on green investment (i.e. mitigation, adaptation and ‘other’ environmental finance which includes environmental protection and remediation related projects)—as the world’s climate negotiators were meeting in Lima, and its numbers are significant.

The report—IDFC Green Finance Mapping For 2013, supported by Ecofys and WRI—said that in 2013, green finance commitments topped $99 billion, $89 billion of which was committed for climate change mitigation and adaptation– almost four times what the multilateral development banks (MDBs) provided in 2013. (Their methodologies differ on how they track climate finance). This is an increase of $ 4 billion in green finance from 2012 to 2013. The number of IDFC institutions varies from year to year, but comparing green finance flows of the 16 institutions which reported in both years, there is a similar increase of $4 billion between 2012 and 2013.

There are a few take home messages from this report:

1. Tracking climate finance flows and harmonizing methods pays off. This green finance mapping exercise has resulted in more transparent data and a better understanding for IDFC members of how much finance is directed for mitigation, adaptation or other environmental objectives. Importantly, the mapping process has built ambition for climate finance by IDFC members. There can be methodological improvements in the future. For example, the IDFC could work more closely with other public sector actors, such as the MDBs, on coming up with a common definition of what should be included in climate finance, as recommended by the recent Standing Committee on Finance’s “Biennial Assessment and Overview of Climate Finance Flows 2014”.

2. Achieving the low carbon, climate resilient transformation that is needed to keep warming below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) will require a broader shift from carbon-intensive to green investment and will require IDFC members to make sure there is an alignment of all development finance with climate change objectives, including a shift away from funding fossil fuel projects.

3. The IDFC can direct more finance to adaptation. As is the case with the larger ecosystem of climate finance flows, the climate finance commitments by IDFC is dominated by mitigation – about 80 percent of the climate investment ($72 billion) is directed to green energy and mitigation.

4. The developing world is already a major source of green/climate finance flows. Of the 18 IDFC members that participated in the mapping, 11 are located in non-OECD countries, and they committed 49 percent ($48 billion) and 42 percent ($30 billion) of the total green finance and green energy and mitigation finance, respectively. More than three-quarters – 78 percent -- of the total adaptation finance was committed by members in non-OECD countries.

And most of the climate finance from the institutions based in non-OECD countries is spent in their home countries or regions: 98 percent of their total for green energy and mitigation and 93 percent for adaptation.

5. While tracking climate finance inputs is critical, there needs to be a greater focus on climate finance outputs, including robust results frameworks and clear metrics for measuring the effectiveness of climate finance, especially with regard to adaptation.

While more can be done to align climate finance tracking and reporting within the IDFC and capture finer detail on the climate finance flows, these figures show IDFC members’ strong commitment to sustainable development and climate change action. The IDFC is on track to increase its direct green/climate financing to $100 billion a year by the end of 2015, as announced at the New York Climate Summit.

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