How financing to tackle climate change can be mobilised

Last year’s flash floods caused by intense rainfall damaged crops of most of the farmers in northeastern Bangladesh. PHOTO: MINTU DESHWARA

At the recently concluded two-day international conference on climate finance in Dhaka, about a hundred national and 50 international experts, government officials, researchers and private sector representatives shared their experiences and knowledge about raising and spending money to tackle climate change around the world. The conference was organised by the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS) with the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) and the Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research (C3ER) at BRAC University. Over two days, a number of very interesting papers were presented in both plenary and parallel sessions.

I would like to talk about some of the main outcomes of the discussions at the two-day conference.

The first point I want to make is that tackling climate change both for mitigation and adaptation will cost the world trillions of dollars over the next decade, not just billions. Hence the 100 billion dollars a year from 2020 onwards promised by the developed countries to be provided to the developing countries to tackle climate change, through the Green Climate Fund (GCF), will hardly suffice for all developing countries.

Domestic finance in every country needs to be tapped along with innovative funds and private sector investors at the global and national levels. This is beginning to happen but needs to be scaled up very quickly.

The second point is that while private sector finance is suitable for—and indeed is already flowing towards—mitigation activities, which include renewable energy such as solar and wind power, it does not flow into adaptation for the poorest countries and communities as there is little profit incentive there.

Hence for poor and climate-vulnerable countries and communities, the finance will have to come mostly from public funds, both national and global. So public finance should focus mainly on adaptation rather than mitigation.

The third point that emerged during the discussions is that while money is indeed needed and is a very important element in tackling climate change, it is not of much use if we don’t know what to do with it!

Climate change is a new issue facing the world and we are still in a learning-by-doing mode, which is why we need to emphasise knowledge generation and sharing in order to learn to use money most effectively to both mitigate and adapt to changes in climate that continue to take place.

It is in this context that Bangladesh has emerged, and is recognised globally, as a pioneer in initiating climate finance from its own national exchequer and for development of adaptation technologies while also having the world’s biggest solar home systems programme.

The main outcomes discussed in the presence of the finance minister of Bangladesh were that while Bangladesh and other vulnerable developing countries should aim to get better access to global funds like the GCF, they should also mobilise their own national finance, from both the public and private sector.

The most vulnerable countries in particular now need to look beyond only mitigation and adaptation to also finance for loss and damage which is fast becoming a reality.

In this respect the government of Bangladesh has an opportunity to become a pioneer by using the reserve funds in the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund (BCCTF) to set up a national loss and damage fund or mechanism.

Originally this article was published on   January 31, 2018 at Daily Star. The author Dr. Saleemul Huq is the director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) at the Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB).