Climate Finance, reviving the spirit of COP 21

published on 13 September 2018
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Plenary session, COP21, Paris
Three years after COP21, as we witness on a daily basis the devastating effects of climate change and the urgent need to increase ambition, climate finance issues come back strongly at the surface. Rémy Rioux, CEO of AFD and member of the French negociation team in 2015, shares 4 key points to reinforce climate finance.

Three years after COP21, as we witness on a daily basis the devastating effects of climate change and the urgent need to increase ambition, climate finance issues come back strongly at the surface, within the negotiations and as a test of our collective will to implement the commitments set in Paris. Are we increasing climate finance and reorienting financial systems rapidly enough to sustain the ambition to keep the temperature increase below 1,5-2 degrees and to facilitate adaptation ? This pressing challenge will be again on top of the agenda this autumn at the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) in San Francisco, at the One Planet Summit (OPS) during UNGA in New York late September, at the invitation of President Emmanuel Macron, in Bali during the IMF-WB annual Meetings, then at COP24 in Katowice.

In 2015, the COP21 presidency had to address these very questions. Member of the French team, in charge of the finance track, alongside Laurent Fabius and Laurence Tubiana, I wrote a piece at the time, looking back how trust was built and consensus had been reached. I am no veteran and keep fighting against climate change, heading Agence Française de Développement (AFD) since 2016, but I feel these notes taken in the heat of COP21 could be useful to share my take widely, as food for thought and call for renewed action for all those interested and involved in climate action.

I especially highlight here four key components to make progress on climate finance : 

  • First, always keep in mind the need for a two-tracks approach : while Negotiators are responsible for the consistency and overall ambition of the COP process, only Ministers of Finance and Central Bank Governors can sort out the finance agenda ;
  • Second, developed countries have the responsibility to keep track of the commitments made at COP21 to fulfill the 100 bn$ promise ; 
  • Third, the work and commitment of willing actors in the financial world, both public and private, has to be highlighted to measure and reinforce the momentum created in 2015 ;
  • Last but not least, we need an alive and kicking Green Climate Fund (GCF), as a proof of concept for increased and transformational climate finance.
Rémy Rioux
Rémy Rioux © The Nrb Bus/AFD


We, development financiers, also know that the Climate finance challenge goes way beyond climate. It is the laboratory of financing for sustainable development, where the encompassing concept - including ODA but going way beyond it to orient domestic investments and private finance -, we dearly lack since the Addis Ababa Summit is being forged. Let's never forget that Climate finance is and will remain at the forefront of the fight for implementing SDGs.

This is the reason why the International Finance Development Club (IDFC), the international group of the 23 largest national and regional development banks AFD is a member of and that I have the honor to currently chair, has decided to align with the Paris Agreement process, accompany the trajectories set by the countries and become a platform to mobilize public and private finance towards climate and SDGs. We must strive to build new, innovative alliances, that can spur multilateral efforts in the right direction, and include not only governments, but also the private sector and civil society. 

We cannot afford any setback in the fight against climate change. I believe we will pull ourselves together. I hope the piece below, intending to revive COP21 fraternity, will be a step in this direction. I, with colleagues at AFD, look forward to your comments and support.


Read Rémy Rioux's note