Development aid and climate finance

Produced as part of the Climate change governance for a new global deal CCCEP research programme theme


This paper discusses the implications of climate change for official transfers from rich countries (the North) to poor countries (the South).

The concern is no longer just about poverty alleviation (i.e. income in the South), but also about global emissions and resilience to climate risk. Another implication is that traditional development transfers to increase income are complemented by new financial flows to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation transfers) and become climate-resilient (adaptation transfers).

We find that in the absence of institutional barriers to adaptation, mitigation or development, climate change will make isolated transfers less efficient: A large part of their intended effect (to increase income, reduce emissions, or boost climate-resilience) dissipates as the South reallocates its own resources to achieve the mitigation, adaptation and consumption balance it prefers.

Only in the case of least-developed countries, which are unable to adapt fully due to income constraints, will adaptation support lead to more climate resilience. In all other cases, if the North wishes to change the balance between mitigation, adaptation and consumption it should structure its transfers as “matching grants”, which are tied to the South’s own level of funding.

However, the North can also provide an integrated transfer package that recognizes the combined climate and development requirements of the South.

Johan Eyckmans, Sam Fankhauser and Snorre Kverndokk