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Financing the transition to a low-carbon society
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In the absence of a significant reduction in global emissions from current levels between now and 2050, global temperatures could rise by , and possibly by 2100. The world now has 100–150 months to dramatically change the world’s energy supply trajectory and limit temperature rise to a “safe” . The sums involved in a shift to a low-carbon economy are daunting but not impossible to achieve. Global capital markets, representing $178 trillion in financial assets, have the size and depth to rise up to the investment challenge. Rather than a problem of capital generation, the key challenge of financing the transition toward a low-carbon society is to redirect existing and planned capital flows from traditional high- to low-carbon climate resilient investments. Over the past few years, the international community has developed a number of public- and market-based instruments to shift investments from fossil fuels to more climate-friendly alternatives. As a result, investments in the sustainable energy market have grown from $22 billion in 2002 to $155 billion in 2008. They could reach $400–500 billion by 2020. Unfortunately, only a limited number of developing countries are benefiting from these new financing opportunities, as their markets have up until now failed to attract green investments. Contrary to a widespread view that climate change negotiations and efforts should focus on the largest greenhouse gas emitting countries, this paper argues that a failure to provide fair access to climate finance to all developing countries would have severe political, financial, and climate change consequences. Developing the capacity of low income countries to create conditions that enable markets and private investment flows to address pressing environmental problems is a key priority to finance the transition toward a low-carbon society. This paper proposes a novel country-driven, multistakeholder climate finance framework to assist developing countries to scale-up efforts to address climate change. The framework is built on four mechanisms at the country level: formulation of low carbon, climate resilient strategies—to bring about bottom-up national ownership, incorporate human development goals, and take a long-term outlook; financial and technical support platforms—to catalyze capital from businesses and households; nationally appropriate mitigation action/national adaptation plan-type instruments—to bring about balanced access to international public finance; coordinated implementation and monitoring, reporting, and verification systems—to bring about long-term, efficient results.
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