COP24 video: Three need-to-knows from the UN climate talks in Katowice

COP24 video: Three need-to-knows from the UN climate talks in Katowice

By Carbon Brief

The latest round of international climate negotiations concluded late on Saturday evening in Katowice, Poland.

COP24 gathered diplomats from around the world to, among other things, agree on the “rulebook” for the Paris Agreement on climate change, which was first struck in 2015, but will not formally be coming into force until 2020.

Carbon Brief’s video brings you three key details you need to know about the UN talks this year.

The video explains why Poland hosting the talks provided a controversial coal-tinged theme. Meanwhile, Naoyuki Yamagishi, head of climate and energy at WWF Japan, explains why the call for countries to “raise ambition” proved to be such a talking point.

This content was originally published on Carbon Brief and is shared under a Creative Commons license.

Watch out for Acclimatise’s COP24 summary on all things adaptation!

Cover photo by UNFCCC/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0): Conclusion Meeting of COP24 Plenary.
This New Climate – Episode 2: Running dry – dealing with water scarcity

This New Climate – Episode 2: Running dry – dealing with water scarcity

In the second episode of This New Climate, host Will Bugler explores why it is so difficult to manage water resources and presents Water2Invest – a new tool that helps decision makers make smarter choices about managing water supply and demand. The world’s population has tripled over the last 100 years, but according to the UN, water demand has been growing at more than twice that rate making water scarcity one of the defining challenges of our time. And climate change will only compound the problem. Water2Invest, aims to help decision makers to take the right choices when investing in solutions to tackle water scarcity, potentially providing a powerful new tool to help tackle this crisis.

Episode guests: Gisela Kaiser from the City of Cape Town, Mark Bierkens from Utrecht University, and Daniel Zimmer from EIT Climate-KIC.

This New Climate is an Acclimatise production.

Water2Invest is an EIT Climate-KIC supported innovation initiative.

Further information:


City of Cape Town

Utrecht University


UNDP: ‘Climate change is pushing Africa to a tipping point, threatening economic and development gains’

UNDP: ‘Climate change is pushing Africa to a tipping point, threatening economic and development gains’

UNDP launches report at Poland climate talks calling on nations and world leaders to accelerate and mainstream climate actions across Africa to meet Paris Agreement targets.

Climate change threatens a decade of strong economic growth and social gains across Africa, according to a new report launched today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The report was launched in coordination with the Africa Adaptation Initiative at this year’s climate talks in Poland, which have brought leaders from across the globe to build momentum to reach the goals outlined in the historic Paris Agreement.

“Africa is at a tipping point. Nations across the continent have achieved impressive economic, political and social growth in recent decades. Yet, there are still high disparities between the rich and poor. Poverty, while reduced, remains a serious issue in many countries. And climate change, droughts, floods, changing rainfall patterns and conflict have the potential to unravel efforts to reduce hunger and achieve the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” said Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Secretary-General and Director, UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa.

The report looks at case studies from national climate change adaptation efforts supported by UNDP across Africa for the last 15 years with the financial backing of donor bodies such as the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

“Least developed countries in Africa are among the most vulnerable to climate change, yet the least able to adapt. In many cases, they lack the technical, financial and institutional capacity to identify the best ways to build resilience,” said Gustavo Fonseca, Director of Programs, Global Environment Facility.  “With around US$1.3 billion of voluntary contributions from donors, the Global Environment Facility Least Developed Countries Fund (GEF-LDCF) holds the largest portfolio of adaptation projects in the Least Developed Countries.  The majority of that funding goes to Africa, where most LDCs are located.”

While initial climate change adaptation initiatives show good potential for economic viability, livelihood enhancement and vulnerability reduction in Africa, the report finds long-term sustainability will depend on the prevailing levels of poverty, the wider context of policies and regulations, access to markets and financial services, as well as government capacity to provide continuous technical support to communities.

“Make no doubt about it, climate change is one of the largest risk multipliers for the people, environment and stability of the continent,” Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Assistant Secretary-General and Director, UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support. “In our global economy, these risks need to be addressed urgently with transformative climate investments that will mainstream and accelerate pilot climate actions to create real, lasting impact for the millions of people across the continent whose lives and livelihoods are at risk.”

Tipping points

If the world is not able to reach global targets to keep temperature rise below 2 degrees, the nations of Africa could reach a “tipping point,” according to the report authors, where exponentially increased challenges and threats would arise from higher temperatures.

These tipping points have the potential to create new famines and undermine global efforts to end poverty and hunger by 2030. In turn, high levels of poverty and low levels of human development limit the capacity of poor people to manage climate risks, according to the report, placing further stress on already overstretched coping mechanisms that will perpetuate poverty traps.

Taken together, this raises the potential for an increase in eco-migrants, more catastrophic disease outbreaks (such as the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which took over 10,000 lives), and increased instability.

For the first time in over a decade, world hunger is on the rise, affecting 11 percent of the global population, according to recent estimates from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). In 2017, crop destruction from the Fall Armyworm, strong droughts induced by an abnormally strong El Niño cycle, and a rise in conflict in places such as Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan, were the chief culprits in a serious rise in food insecurity. At the peak of the El Niño crisis from 2014 to 2016, some 40 million people in Africa required emergency assistance. This number dropped to around 26 million in 2017, according to the report.

“Taking reactive approaches to food security and disaster recovery costs the people of Africa billions of dollars in lost GDP, and syphons off government resources that should be dedicated to education, social programmes, healthcare, business development and employment,” said Eziakonwa.

The true costs of adaptation

According to the report, recent studies indicate it is likely the true costs of adaptation will be substantially higher than originally projected, and will require creative financial mechanisms and substantial engagement with the private sector to meet.

“Taken from a global level, this means that leaders need to make good on the US$100 billion promise for climate finance, but will also need to engage the private sector, and think about creative financial modalities like blended finance and green bonds to fill this gap,” said Eziakonwa.

“Building resilience for vulnerable communities cannot be an afterthought. For Africa to succeed in reaching the bold commitments outlined in the Paris Agreement and other international accords, its leaders will need to step up efforts to protect its forests, scale up the renewable energy revolution, transform agricultural production, and build climate-smart cities and infrastructure,” said Eziakonwa.

Smart investments

According to the report’s case studies, there have been a number of noteworthy successes in climate change adaptation in Africa over the past decade, and recent adaptation programming has increasingly focused on larger and more programmatic initiatives that address multiple sectoral entry points and makes better use of partnerships.

The case studies indicate progress across a number of signature deliverables outlined in UNDP’s new four-year Strategic Plan.

  • UNDP-supported projects improved food security in places like Benin, Mali, Niger and Sudan.
  • Farmers across the continent acquired climate resilient seeds and farming techniques to improve productivity and protect against changing climate conditions.
  • National governments improved climate information and early warning systems to save lives from fast-acting storms and improve evidence-based decision making
  • Communities built new protections from natural disasters such as wildfires and sea-level rise
  •  Projects empowered women to be more effective agents of climate action
  • Salaries increased, productivity jumped and new jobs were created on and off the farm.
  • Local and national governments created unique measures to set the enabling environments needed to achieve Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement with specialized support to build medium- and long-term plans for climate change through joint programmes with FAO and UN Environment.

Accelerating toward Paris

Building on the lessons learned from over a decade pioneering adaptation in Africa, a new generation of climate change adaptation initiatives are coming on board with support from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the chief global fund established to service the Paris Agreement, as well as other vertical funds, multilateral development banks and bilateral donors.

GCF-financed climate change adaptation projects supported through the UNDP are now underway in the sub-Saharan African region in Malawi, Uganda and Zambia. To support UNDP’s signature solution for effective, inclusive and accountable governance, GCF-financed National Adaptation Plans projects were recently approved for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Niger.

“Under this vision for mainstreamed and accelerated climate actions across the continent, UNDP is working as a broker to connect the United Nations Development System to improve baseline resilience to climate variability,” said Eziakonwa. “This will require transformational system-wide changes across the UN system, governments, the private sector and society as a whole. It’s a monumental task that requires people from across the globe to come together to rise to the monumental challenges presented by climate change.”

Extended Resources

For additional information, please contact Lamine Bal at

UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in nearly 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.

Cover photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash: Cassava farmer with her baby on her back, Sierra Leone.
New study: Companies around the world are vastly underestimating climate change risks to their business

New study: Companies around the world are vastly underestimating climate change risks to their business

By Anna Haworth

A new study, published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change, analysed disclosures from more than 1,600 global companies and found that many companies are failing to accurately characterise their climate change risk or adequately prepare for its physical impacts.

The study, authored by Conservation International and CDP, was based on responses to CDP’s annual climate change questionnaire, which asks companies to report on climate risk management strategies.  The study represents the first comprehensive analysis of climate risk reporting across multiple industries and sectors of the global economy.

Companies are recognising and reporting physical climate risks – from droughts, floods, cyclones, and changes in precipitation patterns and in average and extreme temperatures. Two-thirds of risks identified were viewed by companies as ‘more likely than not’ or ‘virtually certain’ to occur, and more than half of companies said that they expect climate change to increase their costs or disrupt production capacity.

Company strategies for managing the impacts of climate change were sorted by the researchers into three categories: ‘soft’ strategies, such as conducting risk assessments and updating emergency response plans; ‘hard’ approaches that involve capital investments in technology or infrastructure, such as flood control and air conditioning; and ecosystem-based adaptation, such as grasslands restoration, sustainable agriculture and forestry, or conservation of coastal ecosystems.

Types of adaptation strategies being reported by companies, divided into soft, hard and Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA). The size of the circles represents their relative use overall.

The most common approach to climate change, employed by 39% of companies, involves a mixture of soft and hard strategies. One third of companies use soft strategies only. Notably, 18% of companies did not disclose any adaptation strategy for the physical climate risk identified.

The researchers state that “companies’ disclosures on climate risk reveal a preference for incremental or reactive adaptation strategies.” Companies are retaining the language of risk management and “too often translate the complex challenge of climate change into solutions that align with business-as-usual practices.”

The study finds that while many companies are trying to incorporate climate change into their risk management practices, five key ‘blind spots’ are preventing businesses from adequately preparing for its impacts:

  1. The magnitude and costs of physical climate change risks. Of the companies surveyed, which represent 69% of global market capitalisation, they are collectively underreporting climate risks to investors by at least 100 times. This reflects the fact that a large number of companies do not report financial impacts and those that do, are probably underestimating them.
  2. Climate change risks and adaptation strategies ‘beyond the fenceline’. Despite evidence that climate change will have wide-ranging impacts for businesses, most companies have focused their adaptation strategies on a small set of impacts to direct operations, not taking into account supply chain, customer, employee, and wider societal impacts.
  3. The potential for Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA). The huge win-win potential of ecosystem conservation, restoration and sustainable management, to both reduce the physical impacts of climate change and deliver other co-benefits, is largely being ignored.
  4. The costs of adaptation. Only a limited number of companies are reporting the up-front cost of climate change adaptation measures. These are largely framed in terms of ‘management costs’, which do not necessarily represent additional expenditures on adaptation. Few companies are calculating the return on investment, the relative cost effectiveness of different strategies, or the cost of doing nothing. The near-absence of these cost comparisons limits investors’ ability to understand or assess the strategy against available alternatives.
  5. Nonlinear climate risks and the need for radical change. Most corporate adaptation strategies assume that climate change risk is basically linear. But science increasingly suggests the existence of ‘tipping points’ – such as sudden permafrost thaw, ice sheet loss, or Amazon forest die-back – that could lead to more abrupt changes and severe risks to businesses and society as a whole. The authors conclude that “radical adaptation for radical change, it seems, is not yet part of the business agenda.”

The study closes on a more positive note, stating that these barriers to improved disclosure and ultimately better climate change adaptation strategies are not insurmountable. The authors highlight that corporate governance structures matter for climate change reporting. Furthermore, mandatory reporting requirements and standardised performance indicators would facilitate more transparent and robust reporting. The 2017 Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations has provided impetus for companies to report the financial implications of climate risks and many companies are now reporting in-line with these recommendations. In 2018, CDP has also aligned its reporting with the TCFD recommendations, meaning that companies can more clearly communicate their risks and management approaches to their investors and customers. Finally, in cases where adaptation action offers benefits for multiple actors and become ‘public goods’, new partnership models may be required to enable costs to be shared, both with other companies and with governments.

Goldstein, A., Turner, W., Gladstone, J. and Hole, D. (2018). The private sector’s climate change risk and adaptation blind spots. Nature Climate Change. (paywall)

Cover photo by Lieut. Commander Mark Moran, NOAA Corps, NMAO/AOC (CC BY 2.0): Views of inundated areas in New Orleans following breaking of the levees surrounding the city as the result of Hurricane Katrina. September 11, 2005.
Interactive: How climate finance ‘flows’ around the world

Interactive: How climate finance ‘flows’ around the world

By Jocelyn Timperley, Carbon Brief

Climate finance is one of the bedrocks of negotiations at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including the “COP24” talks taking place this month in Katowice, Poland.

“Climate finance” refers to money – both from public and private sources – which is used to help reduce emissions and increase resilience against the negative impacts of climate change.

Rich countries have promised they will provide $100bn a year in climate finance to poorer nations by 2020. The UNFCCC’s recent biennial assessment found this sum had reached $75bn in 2016, a step forward compared to the $65bn given in 2015.

But what does this climate finance actually look like? How does it “flow” from country to country? Here, Carbon Brief takes a deep dive into a climate finance database collated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The project-level data gives key insights not only into country-to-country flows of finance, but also the type of finance different donor countries tend to offer. For example, it shows which countries offer the biggest proportion to adaptation rather than mitigation projects, and whether grants or loans tend to dominate the money given.

Carbon Brief has produced a series of interactive flow diagrams using the data, available together here as a graphical “story” and further explained below.

Key takeaways

  • Donor governments gave climate finance totalling $34bn in 2015 and $37bn in 2016, according to OECD estimates (note that this is not a full estimate of money counting towards the $100bn pledge – see below for more).
  • Japan was the largest donor, giving $10.3bn per year (bn/yr) on average over the two years. It was followed, in order, by Germany, France, the UK and the US.
  • India was the largest recipient on average, receiving $2.6bn/yr. It was followed, in order, by Bangladesh, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand
  • The single largest “country-to-country” flow was an average yearly $1.6bn from Japan to India.
  • The US was the top contributor to the multilateral Green Climate Fund (GCF) in 2016. (However, the US has now ended its support for the GCF).
  • Around $16bn/yr went to mitigation-only projects, compared to $9bn for adaptation-only projects.
  • Around 42% of the finance consisted of “debt instruments”, such as loans.

Climate finance database

Countries have already agreed that developed countries should be jointly “mobilising” $100bn a year by 2020 to help poorer nations tackle climate change.

However, discussions continue on some of the finer details. For example, how the provision of climate finance should be divided between rich nations, what should be counted as climate finance and how flows of finance should be reported.

Several organisations report on the progress towards this climate finance goal, including the UNFCCC’s recent biennial assessment. This major report found that climate finance either directly given by governments to poorer countries, or raised by them from the private sector, stood at $75bn in 2016, which some analysts said put the world on track to achieving the $100bn goal in 2020. Of this, $57bn was public finance (directly from governments) and the rest private finance.

Others, such as Oxfam, argue that, in reality, far less progress has been made towards the $100bn goal. Its recent report estimates that “climate-specific assistance” was as low as $16-21bn per year in 2015 and 2016.

Here, Carbon Brief presents a comprehensive, project-level view on how countries are giving and receiving climate finance – rather than focusing on the headline total

The OECD, a Paris-based intergovernmental economic organisation, asks its 36 member countries to report on their foreign aid, including climate finance. The data captures climate finance that is both bilateral (country to country) and multilateral (via international institutions) It also gives detailed information about funded projects. (The OECD calls this database “climate-related development finance” rather than strictly climate finance).

The table below allows browsing of the data to select donor and recipient countries. It also allows other filtering, such as whether the money was for adaptation, mitigation or both, and whether it was delivered as a grant or a loan. See below for more details on these different aspects of the finance.

The values represent money committed by governments or agencies on the basis of a firm written obligation and backed by available funds. Therefore, it does not represent pledges.

Browsing the database gives detailed information about many of the projects funded. For example, the “Sector” filter shows that six projects in 2016 labelled by countries as climate finance dealt with coal-fired power plants.

It is important to note that the OECD database does not claim to capture all climate finance counting towards the $100bn. The totals of the data given here add up to $37bn, well below the $47bn the OECD recently estimated in a separate, top-down overview of public climate finance from developed to developing countries in 2016. The OECD also put public climate finance at $55bn in 2017. However, no project-level database for 2017 has been released yet.

The advantage of the bottom-up data is the ability to break it down, in some cases to detailed project level, according to Joe Thwaites, associate in the Sustainable Finance Center at the World Resources Institute (WRI).

This project-level data helps international actors to be transparent about the climate finance they provide, he adds. For example, it can help to ensure there is no “double counting” of climate finance as countries scale it up, he says.

Flow diagrams

Carbon Brief has also created several interactive flow charts – known as Sankeys – which give key insights into how climate finance is being transferred from developing countries to poorer nations. The numbers shown in these charts are an average for 2015 and 2016.

1: Country-country finance

This diagram shows the average yearly amount of climate finance given by each OECD country on average in 2015 and 2016, and where that money went.

Donor countries are listed down the left-hand side of the diagram. The right-hand side shows the amounts which flowed to recipient countries or regions.

It also shows how much went to international bodies, such as multilateral climate funds (“multilateral climate contributions”, see second diagram and below for more), and transfers where the recipient was not specified, often due to projects being split across several countries.

Where the recipient is “anonymised”, the flows represent transactions that do not meet official development assistance criteria or private flows, Guillaume Simon, a climate-related development finance expert at the OECD, tells Carbon Brief. These are considered confidential at the level of individual activities, he says.

The table below shows the top ten donors and recipients, averaged over 2015 and 2016.

Largest climate finance donors Largest climate finance recipients
Country $m/yr Country $m/yr
Japan $10,322 India $2,603
Germany $6,493 Bangladesh $1,357
France $3,671 Vietnam $1,344
United Kingdom $2,618 Philippines $1,296
United States $2,370 Thailand $963
Netherlands $940 Indonesia $952
Sweden $918 Kenya $766
Norway $755 Turkey $665
Canada $682 Ethiopia $647
Australia $480 Myanmar $646

As the table shows, Japan was by far the largest provider of climate finance, according to this data, followed by Germany, France the UK and the US. Together these five countries provided 70% of all donor finance recorded in the OECD’s detailed figures.

India, meanwhile, was the largest recipient, followed by Bangladesh, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand. Together they received for 21% of finance given by donor countries.

The amounts above are reported by countries themselves. However, Simon says that the OECD secretariat conducts regular quality reviews. He adds:

“It has been highlighted in past reviews that marking practices can vary among donors. A Rio markers handbook has been developed to guide…marking and to increase convergence.”

2: Multilateral contributions

As the first chart above shows, not all climate finance goes straight from one country to another. Instead, a sizeable wedge goes via international institutions, such as multilateral climate funds and multilateral development banks (MDBs). The breakdown of the $5.1bn climate share of contributions to these bodies is shown in the second diagram above.

It shows, for example, that the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which was established with a mandate specifically to leverage climate finance towards the $100bn pledge, received an average $1.7bn per year in 2015 and 2016. Japan, the UK and the US contributed the most.

A second set of OECD data, not analysed here, shows climate finance flows from a “recipient” perspective. This focuses on where flows are going rather than where they are coming from. It shows $53bn per year on average being transferred in 2015 and 2016, well above the $36bn average for the “donor” perspective shown here.

The reasons for this difference are complex, Simon tells Carbon Brief. However, it is in part due to the inclusion of extra money leveraged by multilateral development banks (MDBs) from initial donor sums, he says. In addition, inflows and outflows vary for any given year, since funding is not necessarily handed out the same year it is provided.

3: Adaptation vs mitigation

Climate finance reported to the OECD can be tagged as being for mitigation or adaptation purposes, as shown in the third diagram. In cases where it is tagged as both, the OECD does not give details of a split between the two.

Mitigation-only projects received an average 44% of funding in 2015 and 2016, while adaptation-only projects received 24%. Projects with both mitigation and adaptation components sat at 17%, while no information was given for the remaining 14% of projects.

The Paris Agreement says that scaled-up financial resources “should aim to achieve a balance between adaptation and mitigation”. As is shown in the OECD data (and elsewhere) this is not close to being the case, with almost double the amount going to mitigation-only projects compared to adaptation-only ones.

According to Thwaites, however, there are inherently a lot of judgement calls involved in how projects are coded as mitigation or adaptation. He tells Carbon Brief:

“A lot of the time it is judgement based, and especially one of the challenges is that it depends where the coding happens.

“If it happens in a [contributor] country office [in a recipient country], they know the projects better. But they may not be as well aware of what the guidelines are in the Paris Agreement and UNFCCC, and all the rules around that. Whereas, if it happens in the capital [of a contributor country], you’d hope that they will be a bit more aware of the international context and the commitments and the negotiations, but they might not have any clue about the project.”

4: Grants vs loans

This fourth diagram shows the type of climate finance flows, separated into categories (pdf) defined by the OECD: grants, debt instruments (such as loans and reimbursable grants), equity (such as buying of shares) and debt relief.

The total amount given as grants – $19.4bn – is only slightly higher than for projects financed by debt instruments, at $15.5bn. This is despite grants making up the vast majority (98%) of the projects detailed in the database, because debt-funded schemes tend to be much larger.

As the chart shows, some countries, such as Japan and France, deliver the vast majority of their finance as debt instruments. The UK, in contrast, delivered 98% of its finance as grants on average over the two years, while grants also made up 93% of US contributions.

Thwaites tells Carbon Brief:

“One of the things that is interesting is when a country makes an announcement of a number that sounds really big and exciting, then you always have to look below the surface.

“So the effort involved for the UK, which does mostly grant finance, to do every incremental amount of climate finance is more effort politically, for sure, than to be able to approve more loans. So there is a question of how do you credit that.”

One reason the grants-versus-loans balance is important is because accessing private funding for adapting to climate change is expected to be far more difficult than for mitigation projects, Bertram Zagema, policy advisor on food and climate change at Oxfam, tells Carbon Brief. He adds:

“Grant money can go to basic things that communities need to adapt to climate change, for example, and private money will only be invested if there’s a business model.”

The UNFCCC biennial report also notes that grants continue to provide most of the money for adaptation finance.

5: Principal vs significant climate component

This final diagram shows the breakdown of projects labelled in the data as having either a “principal” or “significant” climate component.

This climate element of aid spending is collected using “Rio markers”: tags which donor countries add to reported development finance to give more information about what it will be used for.

The project is scored as having a “principal” objective if it is directly targeting climate mitigation or adaptation, and a “significant” objective where climate change is not the fundamental driver for the project. As the diagram shows, projects with only a “significant” climate-related objective dominate.

While it is justifiable that climate finance is spent on projects where climate is one of many priorities in a broader development project, the way this is accounted for depends exclusively on developed countries’ self-reporting, says Oxfam’s climate finance report. This has “led to the use of disparate and in many instances questionable methods”, Oxfam adds.

In this OECD data, no downwards adjustment is made to “significant” marked activities, Simon tell Carbon Brief. But in some cases, countries themselves adjust down the amount they report to the UNFCCC when a project has only a significant climate component, Thwaites explains:

“Basically, when it’s principal, the idea is that you could probably reasonably count 100% of the value. When it’s significant, it’s only a component of a project. And the OECD members take different approaches to that.

“The UK, literally for every project, they go in and make a judgement on a project-by-project basis, which is a huge amount of effort. I think they deserve quite a lot of credit for doing that.”

In its assessment of climate finance, Oxfam at minimum halved the amount it considered as counting as climate finance for projects where climate was not the primary objective. This is one of the main reasons its climate finance total is lower than other estimates.

Adding up estimates

As noted above, the OECD data is one of several assessments of climate finance, which can vary substantially due to different methods and assumptions. Helena Wright, senior policy advisor at E3G, tells Carbon Brief:

“The OECD data is bottom-up project data, but doesn’t include private finance mobilised by projects, and also may not include all types of projects depending on how these are reported.

“It is important for international actors to be transparent about the climate finance they provide, which is why the project-level data collected by the OECD is useful. More transparent data can help build trust that the $100bn goal is met and that climate finance is being provided and received.”

As noted above, the UNFCCC’s biennial assessment of climate finance flows gives a more comprehensive overview. The latest iteration, which covers 2015 and 2016, was released earlier this month and showed public climate finance from developed to developing countries averaged $58bn in 2015 and 2016.

It draws on several different data sources, including the OECD data, and its topline numbers are signed off by a committee with equal number of developed and developing countries, Thwaites tells Carbon Brief:

“It’s kind of like the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] for climate finance. It’s obviously not as high stakes as the IPCC, but everything in the summary and recommendations has been debated very thoroughly by governments, and they’ve gone through every sentence and reviewed it.”

Oxfam’s recent “shadow finance” report, meanwhile, offers a more stringent assessment of progress towards the $100bn climate finance goal, based on both country submissions to the UNFCCC and the OECD data.

It does not include private finance and tries to account for what it regards as an “overstatement” of public support by developed countries.

For example, its assessment includes only the grant element of loans, not their full face value. It also assumes that at most 50% of funds are for climate in projects where climate is only a significant, not principal, objective. It sums up the resulting value as “climate-specific assistance” – which includes only finance which it says makes a “net financial transfer to developing countries in support of climate action”.

Oxfam estimates this “climate-specific assistance” was as low as $16-21bn per year in 2015 and 2016, with just $5-7bn of this going to adaptation. It adds:

“Even if one assumes a large margin of error, [these figures] point to a significant difference between what donors report and net climate-specific assistance.

“A closer look reveals that overall increases in climate finance appear to be largely the result of an upsurge in loans, in particular to middle-income countries. Whilst loans have an important role to play in the right circumstances, it is concerning that loans constitute an estimated two-thirds of public climate finance in 2015-16. Public grant-based support is too low to meet needs, and is rising too slowly.”

Thwaites agrees that there are many questions to ask, but argues there is no one right climate finance solution for everyone. He tells Carbon Brief:

“This all sort of comes back to this philosophical question of whether climate finance is purely a wealth transfer and compensation – and, for sure, some people think it is – or is it a means to enhance the capital stock of developing countries in a way that will help them fight climate change and also improve their economies. And, if it’s in that sense then, a grant for certain activities which may not be the most economically productive form of transfer.”

Discussions on climate finance are currently ongoing at this year’s climate conference in Katowice, Poland, as part of the Paris “rulebook”. Sticking points include accounting rules and the extent to which developed countries should promise concrete sums of climate finance years ahead of time. Some countries are also pushing for talks to start on a new climate finance goal, due to begin in 2025.

Speaking at the COP24 talks, Zagema tells Carbon Brief that the climate finance debates are “vital outcomes” of this year’s COP:

“Whether the $100bn per year promised to developing countries will be any good for the world’s poor, particularly those living in climate vulnerable situations, depends largely on the accounting rules due to be agreed here in Katowice…

“Robust accounting rules are necessary to show the true net value of developed countries’ contributions to helping vulnerable communities respond to the perils of climate change. They will be essential to ensure that this money actually reaches the people hardest hit by climate change.”

Global climate flows

One further complication is that all of the above numbers assess only public finance from developed to developing countries. This does not account for all of the money going towards tackling climate change, such as private finance, in-country spending or flows from one developing nation to another, such as support being offered by China. This is often referred to as “South-South” finance.

The UNFCCC biennial report gives an estimate that includes all of these flows and puts overall global climate finance at $680bn in 2015 and $681bn in 2016, a 17% increase on 2013-2014 levels. The growth was largely driven by high levels of new private investment in renewable energy, the report says.

A report released in late November by the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) found global public and private climate finance flows reached a lower level of $472bn in 2015 and and $455bn in 2016. It also estimates that flows reached $510bn-530bn in 2017, based on preliminary data.

For comparison, the World Bank recently said a total of $25-30tn alone is needed to help cities shift towards a low-carbon economy.

Charts produced by Tom Prater for Carbon Brief using Flourish and Tableau with OECD data.

This article was originally published on Carbon Brief and is shared under a Creative Commons license.

Met Office: Climate change made 2018 UK summer heatwave ‘30 times more likely’

Met Office: Climate change made 2018 UK summer heatwave ‘30 times more likely’

By Daisy Dunne, Carbon Brief

This year’s summer heatwave, which saw temperature records broken across the UK, was made up to 30 times more likely by climate change, a new assessment says.

A preliminary study by scientists at the Met Office Hadley Centre finds that the extreme heat experienced by the UK this year had around a 12% chance of occuring. In a world without climate change, it would have had a 0.5% chance, according to the results.

The influence of climate change on the odds of the 2018 summer heatwave is the highest recorded for a study of this kind looking at extreme events in the UK, the study scientist tells Carbon Brief at the UN’s 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) in Katowice, Poland.

And, by 2050, the chances of such a heatwave occuring could reach 50%, the scientist adds. “With continued emissions, we’ll eventually make it impossible to adapt.”

Feeling the heat

This year’s summer heatwave dominated front pages in the UK – with all-time temperature records broken in, among other places, Belfast (29.5C), Glasgow (31.9C) and Porthmadog, Wales (33C).

The new analysis suggests that such extreme heat was made around 30 times more likely by human-caused climate change.

The results are “surprising”, says study author Prof Peter Stott, who leads on climate monitoring and attribution at the Met Office Hadley Centre. Speaking to Carbon Brief at COP24, he says:

“This is a piece of scientific evidence showing that this is not just chance; we’re not just unlucky. We’re reaping the results of our emissions.

“If you look right back at global temperatures, it’s effectively impossible to have the temperatures that we’re having now without human-induced climate change. Zooming in to a region like the UK, this is probably the highest I’ve seen in that context.”

Climate change chiefly heightens the risk of heatwaves by raising global temperatures, but the 2018 heat could have also been influenced by “unusual” patterns of weather in the atmosphere, he adds:

“This is largely dominated by rising temperatures. It really is as simple of that. Where we are now, you need relatively unusual circulation patterns to get to such elevated temperatures – but, as we go on, weather patterns which bring warmer temperatures will be less rare.”

Warming’s fingerprint

The new research is the latest in what are known as “single-event attribution” studies. These aim to identify the influence that human-caused climate change does – or does not – have on episodes of extreme weather.

(In 2017, Carbon Brief produced a global map of the results of more than 140 attribution studies.)

For this analysis, scientists used climate models to compare the chances of this year’s summer heatwave happening in today’s world to a hypothetical world without human-caused climate change. Stott explains:

“There are now many models which have, in their simulations, all the forcings on climate – so, increasing greenhouse gas concentrations and other human factors, as well as natural factors, such as volcanic eruptions and solar variability.

“We can basically look into those models and then zoom in over the UK and look at the odds of that extreme weather happening in the UK – and then compare that with the same models, but when they only include natural forcings.”

For the study, the researchers defined a “summer heatwave event” as the average temperature increase experienced across the entire season (June to August), when compared to a baseline period of 1901-1930.

The research has not yet been published in a scientific journal, but the methods used are peer-reviewed, Stott says.

Falling odds

The results suggest that the 2018 summer heatwave had a 12% of occuring. In other words, in today’s climate, this sort of heatwave is likely to happen every eight years.

However, in a world without human-caused climate change, the heatwave had around a 0.5% likelihood of occuring – meaning this kind of event would only occur once in every 245 years.

The findings of the study seem to correspond to historical records of heatwaves in the UK, Stott says:

“If you’re looking at high summer temperatures in the UK, then 2003, 2006 and 2018 were all actually neck in neck. That’s three times in the last 20 years. If you look back at pre-1850s – an estimate of pre-industrial temperatures – it happened once, in 1826. So, once in 200 years versus three times in 20 years – that’s roughly 30 times [more].”

The research follows in the footsteps of another attribution study published earlier this year. That analysis by scientists at the World Weather Attribution network found that, across northern Europe, the 2018 summer heatwave was made up to five times more likely by climate change.

The difference in results likely arises for differences in methods and scope, Stott says. The previous analysis focused on six countries in northern Europe, but did not include the UK.

In addition, the previous study focused on how climate change could have influenced a three-day spike in temperatures, whereas the new analysis looks at temperatures across the summer season, Stott says.

Last week, the Met Office published its 2018 climate projections. Among its findings, it reported that summers as hot as in 2018 could be expected every other year by the middle of the century. Stott says:

“What we’re already experiencing is a forecast of what could happen – but in spades. With continued emissions, we’ll eventually make it impossible to adapt.”

This article originally appeared on Carbon Brief and is shared under a Creative Commons license.

Cover photo from Wikimedia Commons (public domain): Outdoor events at The Overture, a free three-day festival to mark the reopening of Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, attended by over a quarter of a million people.
Job opening: Communications consultant with technical knowledge of climate change adaptation and resilience

Job opening: Communications consultant with technical knowledge of climate change adaptation and resilience

Acclimatise is looking for a self-motivated Communications Consultant with strong technical knowledge of climate change adaptation and resilience, combined with a commitment to make what we do even more awesome.

The role entails extremely varied, fast-paced work that changes from project to project. It provides the opportunity to improve the way climate change is communicated and understood using a range of media including video, podcasts, infographics, and written outputs.

The cross-cutting nature of Acclimatise communications work means that the successful candidate will have the opportunity to work on Acclimatise’s projects from across its global portfolio and teams.

Click here to learn more about the position and to apply!

Deadline for applications Friday 1 February 2019, 6pm GMT.

All applicants must have full rights to reside and work in the UK. Acclimatise will not consider candidates who require sponsorship to secure visas and work permits.

World Bank announces that its adaptation spending will match mitigation for first time

World Bank announces that its adaptation spending will match mitigation for first time

Will Bugler

During the first week of the UN climate change conference in Poland, the World Bank announced that it will significantly boost its spending on climate change adaptation for the period 2021-2050. The Bank will double its current level of climate spending, committing US$ 200 billion to support countries to take ambitious action on climate change. The new plan significantly boosts support for adaptation and resilience, putting adaptation spending on a par with mitigation for the first time.

The extra finance for adaptation comes in recognition of mounting climate change impacts on lives and livelihoods, especially in the world’s poorest countries. “Climate change is an existential threat to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.” Said World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim. “These new targets demonstrate how seriously we are taking this issue, investing and mobilizing $200 billion over five years to combat climate change. We are pushing ourselves to do more and to go faster on climate and we call on the global community to do the same.”

Importantly the bank will ramp up direct adaptation finance to reach US$ 50 billion over the 5-year period, the first time that adaptation finance will be equal to investments that reduce emissions. World Bank Chief Executive Officer, Kristalina Georgieva, said that the move is important to protect people from the worst impacts of climate change. “People are losing their lives and livelihoods because of the disastrous effects of climate change,” she said, “we must fight the causes, but also adapt to the consequences that are often most dramatic for the world’s poorest people”.

The new financing will ensure that adaptation is undertaken in a systematic fashion, and the World Bank will develop a new rating system to track and incentivize global progress. Actions will include supporting higher-quality forecasts, early warning systems and climate information services to better prepare 250 million people in 30 developing countries for climate risks. In addition, the expected investments will build more climate-responsive social protection systems in 40 countries, and finance climate smart agriculture investments in 20 countries.

“There are literally trillions of dollars of opportunities for the private sector to invest in projects that will help save the planet,” said IFC CEO Philippe Le Houérou. “Our job is to go out and proactively find those opportunities, use our de-risking tools, and crowd in private sector investment. We will do much more in helping finance renewable energy, green buildings, climate-smart agribusiness, urban transportation, water, and urban waste management.”

The new finance will be supported by increased efforts by the World Bank to provide technical support to integrate climate considerations into policy planning, investment design, implementation and evaluation.

Cover photo AgnosticPreachersKid/Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0): The World Bank Group headquarters buildings in Washington, D.C.
COP24 side event: Adaptation Finance and TCFD Recommendations

COP24 side event: Adaptation Finance and TCFD Recommendations

Acclimatise, the European Investment Bank, and the Global Reporting Initiative would like to invite you to this panel discussion.

When: Tuesday 11 December from 15:00-16:30

Where: Room BUG, Area G, COP24 Conference venue, Katowice


  • Dr Cinzia Losenno, Senior Climate Change Specialist, European Investment Bank
  • Dr Craig Davies, Head of Climate Resilience Investments, European Bank of Reconstruction and Development
  • Dr Hilen Meirovich, Climate Lead Specialist, IDB Invest
  • Mr Remco Fischer, Head of Climate Change, UNEP Finance Initiative
  • Dr Barney Dickson, Director of Strategy and Policy, Global Center on Adaptation, Co-Director of Global Commission on Adaptation
  • Mr Alexis Bonnel, Lead of International Development Finance Club, Agence Française
    de Développement

Moderator: Mr John Firth, CEO of Acclimatise

Webcast:  A live broadcast via Skype Meeting Broadcast will be available on-demand via the following
link to “Side Events Webcast Page”. Viewers will also be able to submit questions through the dedicated chat.

Contact: Dr Sara Venturini,


Policies and investors play a key role in building climate resilience, including through climaterelated
financial disclosures. This event explores promising practices of national and capital market policies enhancing corporate reporting on climate action, and international finance institutions’ reporting on adaptation finance.

It has been over a year since the release of the Recommendations from the Financial Stability Board (FSB) Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). Across the world, leading initiatives have started to explore how different segments of the financial sector may respond to the TCFD Recommendations. Lessons from these pioneer initiatives show the need for collaboration between and within financial institutions, as well as for better guidelines and metrics to support risk disclosure processes.

Physical climate-related disclosures are part of an iterative process and constitute a learning exercise for corporations and financial institutions. Multilateral development banks (MDBs) have a role to play in ensuring that emerging economies are not left behind as new regulatory and market practices on climate-related disclosures emerge.

This event will discuss:

  • How policy plays an important role in advancing corporate reporting on climate change related issues by exploring promising practices of national policies and capital markets regulation that enhance corporate reporting and climate action.
  • How MDBs can work with commercial bank partners using the TCFD recommendations as a basis for engagement.
  • How major financial institutions such as MDBs and International Development Finance Club (IDFC) members work jointly to develop principles and methodologies to report the level and the outcome of climate finance for adaptation and climate resilience operations in their development portfolios.

Cover photo by Umkatowice/Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0): Katowice, Poland

Australian companies not disclosing climate risks properly at risk of legal challenges

Australian companies not disclosing climate risks properly at risk of legal challenges

By Elisa Jiménez Alonso

Recent research has concluded that while Australian companies are increasingly aware of the need to disclose their climate risks, the majority are failing to demonstrate strategies to actually do so – this could lead to legal challenges.

To complete this research, Market Forces analysed the public disclosures of the 74 ASX100 companies (as of July 2018) that operate in sectors highlighted by the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) as facing the highest levels of climate risk.

According to Market Forces companies are now disclosing more detailed discussions of the risks and opportunities they face from climate change. But only 12% of them have disclosed detailed analyses of how their business will cope under different climate scenarios. Even fewer have actual plans to reduce their emissions.

Of the 74 analysed companies only 3, South32, AGL, and Stockland, were found to disclose in line with all the TCFD recommendations. Commonwealth Bank, BHP, Westpac and ANZ each come close to fully satisfying the recommendations while Macquarie and Mirvac are among the companies that have committed to addressing all recommendations in their 2019 reporting.

These findings are especially important since Australian regulators are increasing their scrutiny regarding climate risk disclosure. A recent report by the Australian Security & Investments Commission (ASIC) found many companies were actually breaking the law by failing to adequately consider and disclose climate risk.

According to Market Forces, This is perhaps unsurprising, given legal warnings that companies and their directors must consider climate change risks and disclose all material business risks.

However, regulators need to clarify what specific climate-related disclosures are required of companies operating in even the most exposed sectors and also mandate a TCFD-compliant climate risk reporting for all companies operating in ‘high risk’ sectors, as well as financial institutions.

Read about Acclimatise’s work on assessing physical climate risks and opportunities with UNEP FI and 16 commercial banks by clicking here.

Cover photo by Holger Link on Unsplash