Got transparency? Leaders and laggards in climate finance reporting

A new scorecard reveals that we have a long way to go in making climate finance transparent.

September 26, 2011

J. Timmons Roberts, David Ciplet

The need for transparency in climate finance is plain: unless developing countries know how much money to expect, when and for what, they cannot effectively plan their efforts to address and respond to climate change. But what has been the track record of wealthy countries on this crucial issue?

A new scorecard reveals that we have a long way to go in making climate finance transparent. The authors from Brown University, the University of Zurich and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) evaluated the extent to which these countries meet a set of 25 common-sense transparency criteria in their climate finance reports to the UN. The scorecard can be found at:

Even the highest-scoring countries — Norway and Japan — barely reached a 50 percent score across the criteria evaluated. A look at how funds are being allocated reveals a murky and complicated underside to the commitments made two years ago in Copenhagen. There are grave concerns that funds previously promised or expected for basic needs such as health and education are being diverted for climate projects.

“Transparency is as important for taxpayers in the North as it is for climate-vulnerable countries in the South,” says Dr. Saleemul Huq, senior fellow in the climate change group at IIED. “Transparent reporting is essential to enable recipient countries to plan their responses to climate change and for civil society to hold governments to account on their promises.”

The authors call for an international registry of funds that provides comprehensive, detailed, consistent and transparent accounting and reporting measures at the project level. A transparent system, they argue, is essential to build much-needed trust and to jointly achieve the critical global goal to reduce emissions and protect those people most vulnerable to climate change.

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J. Timmons Roberts is the Director of the Center for Environmental Studies at Brown University. David Ciplet is a PhD student at Brown University.

The views expressed here are those of the authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the institutions to which the authors belong.