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The Standing Committee on Finance presented its Biennial Assessment and Overview of Climate Finance Flows at a special event at the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech (COP22) today. Here are the opening remarks of UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa at the event:

"Gaining an overview over climate finance is a complicated, if not complex undertaking—but a crucial one. In fact, this is the case for the entire climate change process. So it is all the more valuable to get this kind of assessment.

Finance, as we all know, is at the very heart of the successful implementation of the Paris Agreement. And beyond that, finance is at the very heart of achieving the sustainable development goals.

Without the needed financial flows, both the Paris Agreement and the SDGs will largely remain a promise rather than a transformative reality.

Ladies and gentlemen, friends, I am therefore delighted that the biennial assessment shows that we are indeed moving in the right direction:

First, we have indications that developed countries are mobilizing towards the agreed USD 100 billion dollars per annum by 2020

Second, the biennial assessment notes that overall, global climate finance in 2014 showed a marked increase compared to previous assessments.

Third, the assessment represents an effort to provide greater transparency regarding public and private climate finance.

Finally, the assessment also clearly shows how small climate finance flows are consistent with the wider trends in global investments.

In this sense the assessment provides an excellent basis for work to be done here in Marrakech and in the coming years.

Our work is also informed by the assessment, as it provides an overview of where we need to redouble our collective efforts to ensure further tangible progress.

  • For example, mitigation-focused finance represents more than 70% of public finance, whereas adaptation finance accounted for only about 25% of the total finance.
  • This means that more sustainable and predictable funding for adaptation going forward is urgently needed, including through the Green Climate Fund and the Adaptation Fund. 
  • This is important as we need clarity on areas for improvement.

By UN estimates, investments to achieve the full set of Sustainable Development Goals, including climate-related ones, will need to be around $5 trillion to $7 trillion annually.

While the assessment is a snapshot in time, it sheds light on the gap between where we are currently and the trillions needed to truly transform our social and economic reality.

And despite progress in the climate talks, the real-world challenge remains monumental.

Much has happened in 2015 and 2016 including shifts in investments by banks and pension funds – things that we had not seen before - up to commitments by companies and pledges made before and at Paris by developed nations to, for example, the Green Climate Fund.

In this sense, we have a new scenario compared to two or three years ago.

Nevertheless, let me underline again, that scale is not yet commensurate with the challenge, including in terms of building resilience.

One year after Paris, climate-related and SDG-related finance accounts for less than one per cent of the total of around $110 trillion devoted to global infrastructure and bond issuances, according to the New Climate Economy report.

This means that there is enormous room for improvement, as well as enormous opportunities to be seized.

Truly unlocking finance will require policy and regulatory measures to build a more sustainable financial system. According to a new UNEP Finance Initiative report on linking sustainable development to the financial system, this is starting, but much more is needed.

According to others, too much finance is still flowing into high-carbon investments. That needs to change, with policy providing ever clearer signals to investors that low-carbon growth is our collective direction.

It is these changes in the mainstream world of global finance that will bring the transformative vision of the Paris Agreement and the SDGs to life in the way that the nations of the world intended.

Getting this right urgently needs to be part of our collective focus, starting here in Marrakesh. We can register that we are on the right path. It allows us to move forward speedily.

I do hope that the report will provoke much reflection on the many points it raises.

I once again thank the Standing Committee on Finance and everybody who contributed to the Biennial Assessment for their great work."

See the UNFCCC web page with the Biennial Assessment and Overview of Climate Finance Flows and an interactive infographic here

See also the UNFCCC's climate finance snapshot



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