Green finance meets the COP: An on the ground report

December 14, 2018

This year’s Climate Change Conference drew large crowds from all walks of the climate concerned community (as well as the less concerned). From my four days spent in Katowice in Poland I have a couple observations about what I saw and heard. 


The COP ground consists of one main pavilion as well as several side venues. In the pavilion area and side event venues, different stakeholders host events to discuss their respective work on climate change. With 22.000 registered participants for this year’s COP, it is larger than the previous two years, though not as large as the 2015 Paris event.


Compared with previous years there was an increasing focus on climate finance at this COP. Having agreed on initial limits and respective country commitments in Paris in 2015, the discussion is now moving towards how to actually realize these pledges. A large part of that work lies within the field of green finance. As I’m working with these issues at the International Institute of Green Finance on a daily basis it was a pleasure to see how green finance is moving towards center stage. 


An example of this was the maiden joint pavilion by the multilateral development banks that hosted 3-4 events each day on different aspects of climate finance. Topics included blended finance, project preparation facilities, and regional differences in MDBs climate finance. While disagreements exist in processes and accounting, climate finance is increasingly considered a key too for meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. This goes both for the country level negotiations as well for all other stakeholders present at this year’s COP. 


At the national negotiation level there were disagreements on how to measure and account for the USD100bn pledged by developed countries as promised in Copenhagen and cemented into the Paris Agreement. Disagreements centered on whether to include new and additional flows in measuring climate finance, especially in regards to north to south flows. The issue has been discussed in previous negotiations with very limited progress. For example, developing countries are insisting that financing originating from money raised by emissions trading should not count. The US was opposed to raising the issue in the first place. 


The issue of double counting was also addressed. This problem originates in the process accounting for climate finance flows from developed to developing countries, as they pass through several intermediaries that may individually report the numbers. 


On December 6ththe German pavilion hosted an event on aligning MDB spending with the Paris Agreement. At the event a report by the World Resources Institute was published [1]. Report-highlights included the need for MDBs to increasingly provide technical assistance to countries on how to achieve their national determined contributions, and that MDBs should not only continue with their annual climate reporting but also report on other climate variables such as climate risk in their investment portfolios. The event was attended by representatives from the World Bank, the European Investment Bank, and the African Development Bank. They highlighted that the MDBs on December 3rd had launched a consensus based 6-step framework on how to approach the Paris Agreement [2]. Overall the event showed the increasing importance of MDBs as a vehicle for meeting global climate financing need, both through their direct financing, technical assistance, as well as normative influence as intergovernmental organizations. 


I’ll continue to scout for any interesting green finance news out of the COP and report it to you in the newsletter. 







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Beijing, China

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