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Following the Money in an International Climate Agreement

Athena Ballesteros explains how international climate finance could make or break a deal in Copenhagen.

WRI has released a new paper on climate finance. What is climate finance and why is it important in climate negotiations?

In order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the world will have to act quickly and at scale. Developing countries have indicated their readiness to act, alongside the industrialized nations. But to do so, they will need significant financial support. Such assistance is necessary to help developing countries deal with climate change by: adapting to its destructive impacts, such as stronger storms, droughts, and sea level rises; reducing greenhouse gases by switching to cleaner fuels and energy sources; and building capacity so that they have the expertise and institutions to make the necessary changes.

This support will come in a range of forms – private investment and carbon markets, but also public finance. Though there is increasing agreement about the amount of finance required to satisfactorily tackle climate change, there is still no consensus on how this money

will be actually be delivered.

Traditionally, aid has been managed by existing institutions like the World Bank, which in turn have been controlled by the developed, donor countries. The climate issue is

different. It is not only about giving aid but also about jointly solving a common problem. Therefore, a new global agreement on climate finance is likely to significantly redistribute power, responsibility, and accountability between traditional donor and recipient countries. This is both long overdue and necessary.

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