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.
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,...
JP Morgan, one of the world’s leading investment banks with 8,000 clients in more than 100 countries, has adopted new environmental policies based in significant part on WRI advice. JP Morgan will account for greenhouse gas emissions associated with their lending portfolio. The bank will work with clients to develop financing solutions to fund development of lower carbon-emitting technology solutions and investments in greenhouse gas reductions. The bank will lead efforts with other financial institutions advocating for the U.S. government’s adoption of a market-based national policy on greenhouse gas emission reductions.
The financial implications of environmental opportunities and risk need to be understood by financial institutions and investors, and reflected in the world’s capital markets. Our collaboration with Merrill Lynch, one of the world’s leading financial management and advisory companies, has resulted in their report, “Energy Security and Climate Change: Investing in the Clean Car Revolution.” Merrill Lynch uses this report to advise clients about investments in the auto industry. WRI’s work with Merrill Lynch advances our efforts to involve the financial sector in addressing climate change.
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...
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WRI’s New Ventures project identifies, mentors, and provides small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with access to investment. New Ventures operates in six of the world’s most vibrant emerging economies – Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, and Mexico – where the environment and development decisions being made today will impact the entire world, and where the private sector, particularly SMEs, is driving economic growth.
This year, the full New Ventures portfolio grew to 180 enterprises and facilitated the transfer of $158 million from angel investors, banks, green funds, venture capital funds, and development banks to SMEs that are protecting the environment and delivering economic growth.
One shining example is Beijing Shenwu, a manufacturer of energy efficient industrial furnaces that uses a new recycled combustion air technology to reduce energy consumption by as much as 60% and decrease CO2 emissions by at least 30%. Deployment of the system in the Chinese steel industry has reduced that country’s annual industrial energy consumption by the equivalent of 2.09 million tons of coal, thus cutting CO2 emissions by over 11.72 million metric tons a year. It is a critical feat given that China and the U.S. are the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters.
In January 2010, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued new guidance clarifying that publicly-traded companies need to disclose financially material impacts related to climate change. Material impacts may range from compliance costs related to emissions regulation, to the physical impacts of changing weather patterns on operations.
The SEC ruling creates more incentives for capital to flow to sustainable businesses, while also improving awareness of the importance of climate change among the financial community. Companies are expected to improve GHG emissions accounting and reporting - an important stepping stone to managing and reducing corporate carbon footprints. WRI plans to continue engagement with the SEC, companies, and other advocates to help develop more specific rules, methodologies, and guidance relating to environmental disclosure.
For the past decade, WRI’s Markets and Enterprise Program (MEP) has been working to analyze material impacts of climate change on companies. MEP’s publication, Coming Clean, was one of the first reports identifying the need for improved corporate disclosure and providing specific recommendations for the SEC that were grounded in detailed financial analysis. Since then, WRI has worked closely with the investment community, as well as businesses, to foster support for better financial analysis and climate change-related reporting.
Meanwhile, WRI’s GHG Protocol team has worked over the last six years to build the foundation, constituency and the accounting infrastructure for companies to engage in corporate emissions disclosure and prepare for exactly this type of requirement. The GHG Protocol’s Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard in particular is an important precursor to the SEC requirements. The SEC guidance refers to three business programs – the Carbon Disclosure Project, The Climate Registry, and the Global Reporting Initiative - that illustrate increasing corporate disclosure of climate change impacts and risks. All three of the programs’ greenhouse gas emissions reporting components are based on the GHG Protocol’s Corporate Standard.
Since 2007, both the Markets and Enterprise Program and the GHG Protocol Team have also been working through an international collaborative effort – the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB), which includes the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), The Climate Registry (TCR), CERES, and the World Economic Forum (WEF) to inform and guide SEC and other national financial accounting regulatory boards to address the issue of climate change reporting in the financial statements.