By Laurie Goering
LONDON, March 7 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Less than 10
percent of finance from international climate funds to help
developing countries adapt to climate change impacts and adopt
clean energy is reaching local-level projects, finance
In part, that is because international climate funds, under
pressure to get donated funds into action, are opting to work
with development banks and other big international agencies that
can quickly spend millions - rather than with smaller-scale
local governments and projects, said researchers at the
London-based International Institute for Environmental and
Weak local ability to design and evaluate projects, and to
fill out complicated forms to access money are another problem,
they said, as is the smaller scale of local projects, as vetting
each one takes more time.
Another obstacle is the lack of a specific target in the
Paris Agreement on climate change to spend more finance at the
local level, the researchers said in a report released Tuesday.
“Understanding how to get money where it matters is the
challenge of the moment,” said Clare Shakya, climate change
director at IIED and one of the report’s authors.
Today, donors have given only 11 percent of the climate
funds they promised, in part because of the obstacles, she said.
Richer nations have promised to donate or otherwise mobilise
$100 billion a year by 2020 to help poorer countries switch to
clean energy and adapt to problems such as worsening droughts,
flooding and sea level rise.
But getting that money raised and flowing has proved
The United States, for instance, has promised $3 billion to
the Green Climate Fund and so far delivered $1 billion. But
President Donald Trump has suggested he would not make any
additional contributions, and may pull the United States out of
its international climate agreements.
The lack of international finance is a problem for countries
such as Ethiopia, which has estimated it needs $7.5 billion a
year to switch to clean energy and adapt to climate change, but
is so far receiving between $100 million and $200 million a year
in international support, said Saleemul Huq, a senior fellow at
ETHIOPIA PUSHES AHEAD
Ethiopia is nonetheless moving ahead with a large-scale
national push toward hydropower and wind, solar and geothermal
energy, and on projects to adapt to climate change, including
worsening drought, said Gebru Jember Endalew, the programme
coordinator for Climate Change Forum-Ethiopia and the new chair
of the Least Developed Countries group in international climate
The east African nation is saving money by incorporating its
clean energy projects into its national plans, rather than
carrying out each piece of the effort as a separate
internationally funded project, he said.
Such work “needs to be part of the development plan of the
country,” he said. “It needs to be managed there. It’s much less
costly than using consultants.”
But Paul Steele, IIED's chief economist, warned that donors
sometimes balk at directing funding into national plans, arguing
they don't trust the systems for accounting for it.
Endalew said poor countries have little option but to push
ahead on climate change adaptation efforts as much as possible
on their own because the impacts of climate change “are already
more severe” than anticipated, with the world just 1 degree
Celsius above pre-industrial temperature levels.
“Imagine when they’re 3 to 4 degrees” higher, he said. He
said the Least Developed Countries group would continue to push
for swift action on climate change because “our main goal is for
the world to remain safe”.
LOCAL LEVEL FINANCE
Some examples of how international climate finance could
reach local level – and the most vulnerable people – are
In Mali and Senegal, a three-year effort by IIED and the
Near East Foundation has led to the creation of six $700,000
funds to help local communities build resilience to climate
variability and extreme events.
The funds, administered by local governments, allow
communities to choose the actions they think will most help
them. In Senegal, for instance, a salt harvesting community has
used money to plant salt-resistant trees to help protect the
estuary where they work.
The effort, part of the UK-funded Building Resilience to
Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED) project, aims to help
local governments and communities develop better skills to
manage climate funds and to use money in a transparent and
“We really need to focus discussion on making sure that
(climate finance) gets to the right places,” said Archie Young,
the UK’s lead climate negotiator, during a discussion at IIED.
(Reporting by Laurie Goering @lauriegoering; editing by Alex
Whiting:; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the
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