$1 trillion funding gap for poorest countries’ climate plans

Pledges by 48 least developed countries to a UN deal need more than $90 billion a year between 2020 and 2030 to implement, says IIED 

Raised houses in Bangladesh protect inhabitants from rising flood risk (Flickr/Nasif Ahmed/UNDP Bangladesh)

Raised houses in Bangladesh protect inhabitants from rising flood risk (Flickr/Nasif Ahmed/UNDP Bangladesh)

By Alex Pashley

Climate plans by the world’s least developed nations are staked on more than US$1 trillion in finance from wealthy donor governments and private investors.

That’s according to calculations by the International Institute for Environment and Development, which suggests the cost of adapting the economies to a warming planet is nearly five times higher than reported.

As a two-week UN climate summit begins in Paris on Monday, it lays bare the gap between financial commitments and the costs of tackling climate change.

Some 44 poor countries including Afghanistan, Djibouti and Haiti have presented domestic pledges to a new UN-backed climate accord making a collective $217.2 bn plea for cash.

Those donations are to fund coastal defences, drought-resistant crops and carbon-cutting solar farms in some of the most vulnerable countries to climate change.

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The London-based think tank extrapolated data from the countries’ “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs) and carbon emissions to suggest the total cost comes to $1,039.3 bn over 11 years, about half the size of the Brazilian economy.

“A fair and effective deal at Paris should prioritise the investment of international public climate finance for this group to implement their climate action plans, while agreeing measures to help better-off countries attract private climate finance,” said IIED director Andrew Norton.

Developed countries have promised to mobilise $100bn in climate finance a year from 2020.

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The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates those flows reached $62 bn in 2013-14. Under those calculations, a third of that money – $11.8 bn – went to the least developed countries.

Wealthier “developing” countries Brazil, China, India, Morocco, South Africa and Turkey receive as much public money as the 48 countries, IIED said.

Particularly important for the least developed countries, which have little in the way of emissions to constrain, is cash for adapting to the impacts of climate change. According to the OECD, $10 bn of funds went to adaptation.

A separate report by AdaptationWatch disputed that figure, finding only 17% of the projects counted had climate adaptation as their main objective.

Almost 200 nations are gathering in Paris to broker a new global warming accord, with 150 world leaders due to appear on Monday.

Seyni Nafo, spokesperson for the African Group, said they must commit to a “significant” increase in funds for adaptation to climate change.

A long-term zero carbon goal to cap warming between 1.5 and 2C was the Mali diplomat’s second request.

“If you don’t get to there, regardless of finance, you’re fried,” he told Climate Home.

Read more on: Adaptation | Climate finance | COP21