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The Difficulty of Defining Adaptation Finance

While working on tracking adaptation finance for our Adaptation Finance Accountability Initiative project, we often get the question “What is adaptation finance?” or “What counts as adaptation finance?” To our embarrassment, we still don’t have a clear answer to either question, other than “Well… finance that funds efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change qualifies as adaptation finance.”

We aren’t the only ones who struggle to define the very issue on which we work. Even some of the definitions that the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and multilateral development banks are developing do not provide a complete answer to the question of what types of investment are considered to be adaptation finance.

We decided to do some soul-searching on this subject. While it’s still too complicated to provide a cut-and-dry definition of adaptation finance, we identified three common traits surrounding the issue: Adaptation finance is context-specific, dynamic, and not just about finance.

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Unlocking Private Climate Investment

Focus on OPIC and Ex-Im Bank's Use of Financial Instruments...

WRI’s “Climate Finance” series tackles a broad range of issues relevant to public contributors, intermediaries, and recipients of climate finance—that is, financial flows to developing countries to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change impacts. A subset of this series,...

3 Important Messages from this Week’s UNFCCC Workshop on Scaling Up Climate Finance

The last in a series of expert workshops and consultations under the UNFCCC’s work-programme on long-term finance concluded late yesterday. This 2013 extended work programme on long-term climate finance is designed to “identify pathways for mobilizing the scaling up of climate finance to USD 100 billion per year by 2020 from public, private, and alternative sources” and inform “enabling environments and policy frameworks to facilitate the mobilization and effective deployment of climate finance in developing countries.”I had the opportunity to participate quite actively in this year’s series, as WRI is working with co-chairs from the Philippines and Sweden to facilitate discussions on how to mobilize scaled-up finance for climate action.

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The Norwegian Fast-Start Finance Contribution

Norway is one of the largest contributors to climate finance in the world, relative to the size of its economy. In 2010 and 2011, the majority of Norway’s fast-start finance (FSF) was channeled through multilateral institutions and supported mitigation activities in developing countries, with a...

President Obama’s Climate Action Plan: Can it Shift the World Away from Coal?

While reactions to President Obama’s newly announced climate plan have focused on domestic action, the plan actually has potentially significant repercussions for the rest of the world. These repercussions will come in part through his commitment to limit U.S. investments in new coal-fired power plants overseas. If fully implemented, the plan will help ensure that the U.S. government channels its international investments away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy. The move sends a powerful signal—and hopefully, will inspire similar action by other global lenders.

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Reducing the vulnerability of local communities exposed to climate change by increasing the volume and effectiveness of finance directed towards adaptation.

Stabilizing the global climate is one of the most urgent challenges in coming decades. Our warming world affects all people and ecosystems, particularly the poor who already suffer disproportionately from climate-change impacts.

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