What is climate finance?
Climate finance refers to local, national or transnational financing—drawn from public, private and alternative sources of financing—that seeks to support mitigation and adaptation actions that will address climate change. The Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement call for financial assistance from Parties with more financial resources to those that are less endowed and more vulnerable. This recognizes that the contribution of countries to climate change and their capacity to prevent it and cope with its consequences vary enormously. Climate finance is needed for mitigation, because large-scale investments are required to significantly reduce emissions. Climate finance is equally important for adaptation, as significant financial resources are needed to adapt to the adverse effects and reduce the impacts of a changing climate.
In accordance with the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities” set out in the Convention, developed country Parties are to provide financial resources to assist developing country Parties in implementing the objectives of the UNFCCC. The Paris Agreement reaffirms the obligations of developed countries, while for the first time also encouraging voluntary contributions by other Parties. Developed country Parties should also continue to take the lead in mobilizing climate finance from a wide variety of sources, instruments and channels, noting the significant role of public funds, through a variety of actions, including supporting country-driven strategies, and taking into account the needs and priorities of developing country Parties. Such mobilization of climate finance should represent a progression beyond previous efforts.
It is important for all governments and stakeholders to understand and assess the financial needs of developing countries, as well as to understand how these financial resources can be mobilized. Provision of resources should also aim to achieve a balance between adaptation and mitigation.
Overall, efforts under the Paris Agreement are guided by its aim of making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development. Assessing progress in provision and mobilization of support is also part of the global stocktake under the Agreement. The Paris Agreement also places emphasis on the transparency and enhanced predictability of financial support.
What is the financial mechanism?
To facilitate the provision of climate finance, the Convention established a financial mechanism to provide financial resources to developing country Parties. The financial mechanism also serves the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.
The Convention states that the operation of the financial mechanism can be entrusted to one or more existing international entities. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has served as an operating entity of the financial mechanism since the Convention’s entry into force in 1994. At COP 16, in 2010, Parties established the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and in 2011 also designated it as an operating entity of the financial mechanism. The financial mechanism is accountable to the COP, which decides on its policies, programme priorities and eligibility criteria for funding.
In addition to providing guidance to the GEF and the GCF, Parties have established two special funds—the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) and the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF), both managed by the GEF—and the Adaptation Fund (AF) established under the Kyoto Protocol in 2001.
At the Paris Climate Change Conference in 2015, the Parties agreed that the operating entities of the financial mechanism – GCD and GEF – as well as the SCCF and the LDCF shall serve the Paris Agreement. Regarding the Adaptation Fund serving the Paris Agreement negotiations are underway in the Ad hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA).