Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), developed countries have pledged to provide “fast-start” finance approaching USD 30 billion for the period 2010-2012. Now, in the final year of the fast-start period, these countries are under pressure to demonstrate that they are meeting this pledge. But divergent viewpoints on what constitutes fast-start finance – coupled with unharmonized approaches to delivering and reporting on it – complicate such an assessment.
Starting in May 2012, the Open Climate Network (OCN) will release a series of reports that aims to shed light on these discussions by clarifying how developed countries are defining, delivering, and reporting their fast-start finance. Self-reporting by developed countries indicates that they have reached and even surpassed their fast-start pledges. However, each country’s approach to fast-start finance is different, subject to its domestic political and policy contexts. Some practices may generate controversy internationally, given that stakeholders have expressed diverging views on what form the fast-start finance should take, how it should be delivered, and what it should support. The OCN reports will incorporate insights from the network’s in-country partners and advisors in order to assess each country’s fast-start finance, including the country’s transparency and reporting practices, within its domestic context.
The United States and the United Kingdom
The first two reports on the United Kingdom’s and the United States’ fast-start finance will be released in late May. These assessments are being carried out by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) based on a methodology that was developed by WRI, ODI, and members of an OCN working group, with input from independent experts and stakeholders.
A subsequent assessment of Japan’s fast-start finance, prepared by the Institute for Global and Environmental Strategies (IGES), will follow. The assessments draw from each country’s official fast-start finance reports to the UNFCCC, but also incorporate additional information from a range of sources1 in order to gain a more comprehensive, in-depth, and objective picture of each country’s fast-start finance.
While the U.S. has reported USD 5.1 billion in fast-start funds so far, and the UK has reported GBP 1.06 billion as “spent and committed” to-date, these numbers only tell part of the story. The forthcoming reports aim to shed light on the real character of countries’ fast-start finance, addressing questions such as:
- What domestic sources are generating the finance?
- Which institutions are channeling the finance, and in what form?
- Who are the recipients by region, by country, and by type of institution?
- What is the mitigation-adaptation breakdown of the finance, as a whole, by region, and by country groupings (e.g., Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States)?
- Is scaled-up financing for climate change actually being delivered as a result of the fast-start pledge, or is it the same as it would have been under business as usual?
- What is the relation of the fast-start funds to traditional development finance?
- How is international climate finance viewed domestically within each country, and what are the implications for the fast-start period and for future international climate finance?
- What are the reporting and transparency practices of the country? What best practices does it employ, and what are the areas for improvement?
These reports can help provide a common basis for understanding fast-start finance, particularly as developed countries release new fast-start finance reports for the May 2012 deadline. Moreover, the country-specific assessments of transparency practices and capacities can help countries develop improved international reporting guidelines for climate finance at the next UN climate change negotiations in May. Finally, they can help developed countries identify best practices and draw lessons learned as they implement fast-start finance in 2012, and develop frameworks for generating and delivering critical climate finance at scale in the medium- and long-term.
Visit www.openclimatenetwork.org later in May for the first round of fast-start finance reports.