Three UK government departments have published results achieved by the UK’s International Climate Finance (ICF). Between 2012 and 2019, ICF programmes from the UK have impacted 57 million people, including improving the access to clean energy for 26 million people with 1600 MW of capacity added. They have negated 16 million tonnes of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from £3.8 billion in public and £1.4 billion private mobilised finance.
These results aggregate the UK’s ICF efforts in national bodies (such as the Department for International Development) and intergovernmental ones (such as the World Bank). The UK has committed to spend at least £5.8 billion on ICF between 2016 and 2021, and in August 2019 announced it would double its £0.72 bn contribution to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to £1.44 bn.
ICF helps developing countries to adapt to and mitigate climate change. Developing countries stand to be those worst affected by climate change, while being those less responsible for it. This is because developing countries tend to be historically low emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs) compared to developed countries. For this reason, ICF is a cornerstone of global climate policy. The role of intergovernmental institutions in driving ICF flows is important: these institutions can leverage public finance. Public finance is more open to risk than private finance and therefore suited to developing countries facing high climate risks (i.e., high-risk investments).
The GCF is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) financial mechanism for achieving the Convention’s aims. Some developing countries set expectations of developed countries’ contributions to the GCF before taking their own action on climate change. These conditions are expressed in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement. The GCF has allocated $5 bn of the $10 bn in funding that has thus far been announced. 2019 marks the GCF’s first replenishment drive: a target of roughly $20 bn (double the initial pledges in 2014) has been set for it. $6.9 bn have been announced so far this year.
The UK’s ambition in ICF is relevant to next year’s UNFCCC meeting, which will be hosted by the UK and is set to be the most important climate meeting since the Paris Agreement.