In search of double dividends from climate change interventions evidence from forest conservation and household energy transitions
Over the last year, climate change has been high on the agenda of the international community. The 2030 Agenda contains several goals directly related to climate change, and at the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP21) world leaders agreed to unleash actions and investment towards a low carbon, resilient and sustainable future.
International development assistance is also increasingly shaped by climate change concerns. While much of the aid is distributed through multilateral channels, today more than 15 per cent of total bilateral aid is directed towards climate interventions. The target of the 2030 Agenda is a five-fold increase by 2020. Climate change has been a top priority of Sweden’s international development cooperation for many years now and in this year’s budget the Government announced a dramatic increase in the appropriation to climate financing.
These are responses to current and upcoming challenges. A changing climate means more extreme weather events, more droughts and rising sea levels, which will have an impact on water availability, food production and the frequency of natural disasters. Poor people in developing countries will be particularly adversely affected, and as the impacts of climate change worsen, ending poverty will become more difficult. The question is, what role should international development aid play in financing climate action? Is it possible to address both climate change and poverty in an effective way?
In this report, a team of researchers (Subhrendu K. Pattanayak, Erin Sills, Gunnar Köhlin, Madelene Ostwald, Eskil Mattsson, Ariana Salas and Daniel Ternald) has analysed what we know about the multifaceted impacts of aid-financed interventions. Their conclusion? Very little. The study focuses on two of the top five sectors receiving climate-related development finance, namely forest conservation and household energy. And although some solid knowledge does exist, the authors argue that there is a ‘know-do gap’, i.e. a gap between what we know and what we do. This gap emerges in different dimensions – the interventions implemented are not well represented by the ones studied, the intended impacts are not the impacts studied, the geographical areas studied do not fully represent the areas of implementation. This is, of course, cause for concern. And if this situation doesn’t change, there is an obvious risk that aid-financed climate interventions will be ineffective.