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A fair share of climate finance? The adaptation edition

Working papers

Written by Laetitia Pettinotti, Yue Cao, Tony Mwenda Kamninga, Sarah Colenbrander

Image credit:View of rooftops and smokestacks. China. Image license:Curt Carnemark/World Bank (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

In 2009, developed countries committed to providing $100 billion each year in climate finance by 2020. Despite an urgent need to ramp up financial support for developing countries, the target has yet to be hit.

Responsibility for this failure lies on developed nations. But the collective nature of international climate commitments often shields countries with an acute responsibility for missing them. In a bid to strengthen accountability, ODI publishes an annual report assessing each developed country’s progress towards paying their ‘fair share’ of the $100 billion target. This is based on their historical responsibility for cumulative greenhouse gas emissions, gross national income, and population size. In this third edition, we use the latest 2021 data on international public climate finance flows to evaluate each country’s progress.

As well as assessing contributions to the $100 billion goal, this year we apply the same approach to adaptation finance. Historically given less finance than mitigation, developing countries’ needs for adaptation finance are growing. This was made clear at COP 27 where developed nations were urged to at least double adaptation finance flows to developing countries.

The USA is overwhelmingly responsible for the collective failure to reach both climate finance and adaptation finance commitments; falling short by $34 billion and $13 billion per year, respectively.

With shortfalls of around $2 billion each, Australia, Spain, Canada, and the United Kingdom are also among the worst performers in climate finance provision. In the case of adaptation finance, it is the same culprits – with the addition of Italy – who are most responsible and should be paying between $500 million and $1 billion more per year to meet their fair share. Yet, these countries are part of the Champion group for adaptation finance. They need to pay their fair share urgently.

Lack of accountability in the delivery of climate finance has plagued climate negotiations: developed countries that are not paying their fair share need to step up now.