Further reading

We have found the following texts and websites useful in our work on climate finance. Inclusion in the following bibliography does not necessarily mean we endorse their positions. We have listed these sources because they either provide vital data, advance the debate in some way, or have proven so influential (despite their flaws) as to require reading regardless.

The links pasted below open in a new window or tab. IPS is not responsible for the content of external websites.

IPS and Heinrich Böll Foundation on Climate Finance

Climate Finance Page, Heinrich Böll (North America)

The Heinrich Böll Foundation is an international policy network and think tank part of the Green political movement that has developed worldwide as a response to the traditional politics of socialism, liberalism, and conservatism. Its main tenets are ecology and sustainability, democracy and human rights, self-determination and justice.

Climate Funds Update

A joint initiative of the Heinrich Böll Stiftung and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). This website profiles the growing number of international climate finance initiatives designed to help developing countries address the challenges of climate change. It includes data on bilateral and multilateral funds, as well as a series of useful briefings and reports.

General introductions to the finance sector

Singh, K (2010), Fixing Global Finance : A Developing Country Perspective on Global Financial Reforms

A critical introduction to the recent developments and problems afflicting the global financial system. From a developing country perspective, it enunciates guiding principles and offers concrete policy measures to create a more stable, equitable and sustainable global financial system.

Valdez, S. and Molyneux (2010), An Introduction to Global Financial Markets, 6th Edition, Palgrave Macmillan

An accessible, mainstream student text covering banking, bonds, stock markets and derivatives, amongst other topics. You won’t find any dazzling critiques here, but it is well-written and avoids jargon.

Vander Stichele, M. (2005), Critical Issues in the Finance Industry, SOMO

A critical analysis of the functioning and regulation of banks, insurance companies and other firms in the financial industry. Written before the 2008 financial crisis, it nevertheless offers insights into why that happened. SOMO can justly claim to have played a pioneering role in civil society monitoring of the private financial sector.

Official websites

Green Climate Fund

The Green Climate Fund was set up to “make a significant and ambitious contribution to the global efforts towards attaining the goals set by the international community to combat climate change.” Established under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC), the fund is expected to become operational in 2014.

International Development Finance Club

A group of nineteen national and regional development banks and agencies. Its members include the national development banks (or national development agencies) of Brazil, China, France, Germany and Japan. Their collaboration includes a “strategic focus” on climate finance.

UNFCCC, Fast-Start Finance

Official site hosting reporting of “fast-start finance”, the US$30 billion pledged by developed countries for mitigation and adaptation at COP15 in Copenhagen and mandated as part of the 2010 Cancun agreements.

UNFCCC, Long-Term Finance

A UNFCCC work program established to discuss climate financing after 2012, the end of the “fast-start” period.

World Bank, Climate Change

Home page for the World Bank Group’s funding and research on climate change and “clean energy” – although it is conspicuously free of mentions of the Bank’s fossil fuel financing operations.

World Bank and UNDP, Climate Finance Options

An information platform on climate change financing hosted jointly by the World Bank and United Nations Development Program. Includes an extensive database of financing sources.

Background Reading by Topic

Carbon trading

Carbon Market Watch

Carbon Market Watch (formerly CDM Watch) scrutinizes carbon markets and “advocates for fair and effective climate protection.” It connects NGOs and academics from the global North and South to share information and concerns about carbon offset projects and policies. Carbon Market Watch can be critical of carbon trading, but does not advocate its abolition.

Carbon Trade Watch

Carbon Trade Watch offers “a holistic and justice-based analysis of climate change and environmental policies is not forgotten or compromised.” It focuses on solidarity work with community-led projects and campaigns, and sees no positive role for carbon markets.

FERN, Trading Carbon

A trilingual blog with regular updates on carbon trading. This is accompanied by an online version of the book Trading Carbon, which explains the mechanisms behind carbon trading and why they cannot work to deliver, or even trigger, the structural changes needed to wean our economies off fossil fuels, in the necessary time frame.

Gilbertson, T. and Reyes, O. (2009) Carbon Trading: how it works and why it fails

A short book that outlines the limitations of an approach to tackling climate change which redefines the problem to fit the assumptions of neoliberal economics. It claims that the EU Emissions Trading Scheme has consistently failed to “cap” emissions, while the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) routinely favors environmentally ineffective and socially unjust projects. This is illustrated with case studies of CDM projects in Brazil, Indonesia, India and Thailand.

Lohmann, L. (2011) “Financialization, Commodification and Carbon: the contradictions of neoliberal climate policy”, Socialist Register

Carbon markets constitute the default international approach to the climate crisis. They are aimed both at opening up new frontiers for profit-making and at securing the background conditions for accumulation based on continued fossil-fuel extraction. This article explains how carbon commodities “disembed” the climate issue from the historical question of how to organize for structural, long-term change aimed at keeping remaining fossil fuels in the ground.

Schapiro, M (2010) “Conning the Climate: Inside the Carbon-Trading Shell Game” Harpers Magazine,

A wide-ranging journalistic expose of carbon trading, first published in Harpers magazine.

The Corner House

The main cause of human-induced climate change is rapidly increasing carbon dioxide emissions – primarily the result of burning fossil fuels. To date, the principal international response has been a neoliberal instrument: carbon trading. This page gathers articles on carbon trading and related topics by The Corner House, a UK-based non-profit organization, and its allies.

Climate and Equity

Niclas Hallstrom (ed.) (2012) What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity

An edited volume that addresses the combined challenges of climate, development and equity. How will humanity fairly divide the rapidly diminishing global carbon budget, while allowing billions of people in the global South (and North) the means for economic, social and environmental well-being? How can United Nations negotiations move forward, and what are real and false solutions? It covers the scientific and equity context of climate change, the UN negotiations, real and false solutions and discussions on movement towards change and the role of civil society.


Climate finance – general

Araghi, F (2010) “The End of ‘Cheap Ecology’ and the Crisis of ‘Long Keynesianism”, Economic and Political Weekly

This article argues that a crisis of “negative Keynesianism” is leaving the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank with no solution other than transferring the costs to the South (and to the South within the North). It suggests that climate financing under the auspices of the UNFCCC is following the same path.

Buchner B. et al. (2012) The Landscape of Climate Finance 2012, Climate Policy Initiative

An assessment of the current status of the climate change-related finance, mapping various flows including sources of finance, intermediaries involved in distribution, financial instruments, and final uses. It builds on a 2011 study of the same name,

Equity and Ambition Group, Climate Justice Briefs

A series of 12 briefings on various topics spanning the scope of discussions at the UNFCCC, including papers on climate debt, international climate finance, the World Bank, REDD and carbon markets.

Heinrich Böll Stiftung and Overseas Development Institute, Climate Finance Fundamentals

This series of 11 short introductory briefings looks at various aspects of climate change financing. It is meant to give readers unfamiliar with the global discourse about funding for climate action a better understanding of financial flows, the regions and countries they reach, and the climate interventions they target.

Climate finance – sources

Daly, J. (2012). The Daly-Correa Tax: Background and Explanation

A proposal to use oil export levies for climate change financing.

Global Canopy Programme (2009). The Little Climate Finance Book

The scale of financing needed to tackle climate change is far greater than the current level of commitment from developed countries. There is no more pressing issue at the UNFCCC, and The Little Climate Finance Book is a non-technical guide to the multitude of proposals for addressing it. The book has three sections on revenue generation, the options for delivery of finance and the proposals for institutional arrangements.

IPS, CRBM et al. (2010) Climate Finance Sources: a discussion paper

This short paper details the criteria that progressive civil society groups consider necessary to introduce a global finance regime that will help lead to climate justice. Governments of richer countries have accumulated a climate debt to the rest of the world that they must repay. The paper provides an initial assessment of the strong and weak points of some of the most promising proposals. None are perfect, but all have the potential to contribute useful new sources of funding.

ITUC-TUAC (2012) What role for pension funds in financing climate change policies?

A report by the International Trade Union Confederation and Trade Union Advisory Committee, which argues that institutional investors can and should have a complementary role to that of governments and public financial institutions in ensuring proper financing of mitigation and adaptation policies. In particular it sees potential in the role of green bonds and clean energy investment funds, while at the same time arguing that these should steer clear of Public-Private Partnerships or outright privatization.

Lipschutz, R. & S. Romano (2012) The Cupboard is Full: Public Finance for Public Services in the Global South

A report on financing public services, noting that Public Pension Funds and Sovereign Wealth Funds are amongst the largest pools of untapped public capital. This report is not about climate change financing, but its analysis bears consideration by anyone following debates on climate finance.

UN Secretary-General’s High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing (AGF) (2010), Final Report

An Advisory Group set up in response to COP15 in Copenhagen to study potential sources of revenue that will enable achievement of the level of climate change financing. Its final report offered proposals on how to significantly scale-up long-term financing for mitigation and adaptation strategies in developing countries from various public as well as private sources. It has so far had little discernible effect on new policy-making, but remains a point of reference for many debates. The background “work stream” papers on carbon markets, shipping and aviation levies and other topics are also informative.

World Bank (2011), Mobilizing Climate Finance: A Paper prepared at the request of G20 Finance Ministers

In April 2011, the G20 Finance Ministers tasked the World Bank working with several institutions to conduct an analysis on mobilizing sources of climate change financing. Their joint report is an extension of the the work carried out in 2010 by the U.N. Secretary General’s High Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing (AGF), taking it in a direction that is far more sympathetic to the view that “leveraging” private flows should be central to climate finance. It is also critical of fossil-fuel subsidies.

Ecosystem services

Costanza, R., R. d’Arge, et al. (1997). “The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital.” Nature 387(6630): 253-260

An academic assessment by a number of leading environmental economists estimating the monetary value of the services of ecological systems and the natural capital stocks that produce them. For the entire biosphere, the value (most of which is outside the market) is estimated to be in the range of US$16–54 trillion per year. At the time of writing, the global gross national product total was around US$18 trillion per year.

Daily, G. C., T. Söderqvist, et al. (2000), “The Value of Nature and the Nature of Value” Science 289: 395-396

The world’s ecosystems are capital assets that should be “properly valued” by estimating their economic worth, according to this paper. It suggests that such a task can help institutions to frame their decisions in ways that better take account of ecosystem services.

Gómez-Baggethun, E., R. De Groot, et al. (2010). “The history of ecosystem services in economic theory and practice: from early notions to markets and payment schemes” Ecological Economics 69: 1209-1218

This academic paper reviews the conceptual history of “ecosystem services,” in terms of both economic theory and their practical incorporation into markets and payment schemes. It relates the trend towards monetization and commodification of ecosystem services to a conceptual shift from a Classical to Neoclassical economics framework.

Mandel, J. T., C. J. Donlan, et al. (2010). “A derivative approach to endangered species conservation” Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 8(1): 44-49

An academic paper that proposes the use of financial derivatives to protect endangered species. It highlights various mechanisms for achieving this, and raises many of the issues that have drawn criticisms concerning the “commodification of nature.”

Jason Moore (2011), “Wall Street is a Way of Organizing Nature”

A philosophically-grounded critique of the commodification of nature, placing it within a broader history of capitalism’s appropriation of new “resource frontiers.”

Munden, L. (2010) REDD and Forest Carbon: Market-Based Critique and Recommendations

An influential market-based critique of proposals to establish Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) forest carbon markets.

Palmer, M. A. and S. Filoso (2009). “Restoration of Ecosystem Services for Environmental Markets,” Science 325(31): 575-576

Ecological restoration is an activity that ideally results in the return of an ecosystem to an undisturbed state. Ecosystem services are the benefits humans derive from ecosystems. The two have been joined to support growing environmental markets with the goal of creating restoration-based credits that can be bought and sold. However, the allure of these markets may be overshadowing shortcomings in the science and practice of ecological restoration. This paper argues that without new science and an oversight framework to protect the ecosystem service assets on which people depend, markets could actually accelerate environmental degradation.

Robertson, M. “No Net Loss: Wetland restoration and the incomplete capitalization of nature”

A critical take on ecosystem services payments, focusing on wetlands restoration. It introduces debates on the concept of “no net loss” and “commodification.”

Sullivan, S. (2010), Banking Nature? The Spectacular Financialisation of Environmental Conservation

A critical response to “the financialization of environmental conservation,” which it argues takes two key forms. First, banks and financiers are turning to environmental parameters as a locus for expansion and investment. Second, conservation practice and understandings of non-human natures are being remodeled in terms of banking and financial concepts. It shows that environmental crisis is being recast as “an accumulation frontier for capitalism, precisely through relationships with finance and capital investment.”

Sullivan, S. (2013), Should nature have to prove its value?

Does putting a price tag on our natural world change our behaviour, or is it just another step into a model that brings few benefits for people – let alone our planet?

Green Climate Fund

Friends of the Earth USA (2011), Lessons learned from the financial crisis – A cautionary tale for the Green Climate Fund

As policymakers and civil society organizations debate the design, purpose and modalities of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), they should closely consider some key lessons of the financial crisis. This briefing provides a short recap of the beginnings of the crisis, and then applies key lessons to the GCF.

Sierra, K. (2011), The Green Climate Fund: Options for Mobilizing the Private Sector

This paper argues that the Green Climate Fund needs to leverage private sector investment, and suggests a number of strategies for it to do so.


DB Climate Change Advisors (2011) Investing in Climate Change 2011

A Deutsche Bank report examining the key investment drivers in climate change and “clean energy,” and assessing the balance of risks and returns.

Leaton, J. (2011). Unburnable Carbon – Are the world’s financial markets carrying a carbon bubble? Carbon Tracker Initiative

“There are more fossil fuels listed on the world’s capital markets than we can afford to burn if we are to prevent dangerous climate change,” writes the Carbon Tracker Initiative. This report develops a company ranking according to “estimated carbon reserves,” and aims to persuade investors to count the carbon in their investments or risk holding onto stranded assets if they do not do so.

McNellis, P. (2009) “Foreign Investment in Developing Country Agriculture – the emerging role of private sector finance,” FAO (extracts)

A summary of how institutional investors are reshaping developing country agriculture. The extract here gives summaries of the role of Sovereign Wealth Funds, investment managers, pension funds, hedge funds and private equity – also key actors in the emerging debates on private sector climate finance.

World Economic Forum, Scaling Up Low-Carbon Infrastructure Investments in Developing Countries: The Critical Mass Initiative Working Report (extracts)

The World Economic Forum gives its take on the role of capital market investment in low-carbon infrastructure in developing countries.

McKinsey, The New Power Brokers: How Oil, Asia, Hedge Funds, and Private Equity Are Shaping Global Capital Markets

An influential consultancy report on recent trends affecting global capital markets. For a more critical take on a similar topic, see also chapter 4 of Fixing Global Finance, 

IFIs and “leveraging” private finance

Bretton Woods Project (2012) “Leveraging” private sector finance, How does it work and what are the risks

This briefing helps explain the existing ways in which the World Bank Group attempts to use its investments to leverage additional investment from private actors, and briefly lays out some key risks associated with doing this. It explains what leverage is, how it works and which problems are related to it.

Bretton Woods Project and ‘Ulu Foundation (2010) “Out of sight, out of mind? The International Finance Corporation’s investment through banks, private equity firms and other financial intermediaries”

This paper analyses IFC lending through financial intermediaries, and finds a number of causes for concern, including a worrying lack of transparency, inadequate attention to social and environmental concerns, and a failure to link directly to proven developmental impacts. It sets out recommendations for a complete reformulation of the IFC’s approach.

Brown, J. and M. Jacobs (2011), “Leveraging private investment: the role of public sector climate finance ”, Overseas Development Institute

This briefing note focuses on “how public finance and risk mitigation instruments can remove the barriers to private sector investment and thereby leverage significant amounts of private capital for climate change mitigation.”

Brown J. et al. (2011) “Improving the Effectiveness of Climate Finance: A Survey of Leveraging Methodologies ”, Overseas Development Institute

A study that considers how to define and measure the “leveraging” of private sector climate finance.

Friends of the Earth USA (2013) Pro-poor Climate Finance: Is There a Role for Private Finance in the Green Climate Fund?

This report de-constructs notions of “leveraging” private finance and examines the track record of the private sector, private financiers and development finance institutions in developing countries. It concludes that private finance will be especially difficult to deploy responsibly in low and lower-middle income countries, as well as in marginalized communities in all developing countries. Further, private climate finance cannot be a substitute for direct public finance; adaptation in particular is likely to offer few commercially profitable opportunities for private financiers.

Pereira, J. (2012) Cashing in on climate change? Assessing whether private funds can be leveraged to help the poorest countries respond to climate challenges , Eurodad

This report looks at some of the main instruments that can be used to leverage private climate finance through financial intermediaries, and analyses data from some major development finance institutions (DFIs). It specifically assesses the role of financial intermediaries in low-income countries (LICs) and in supporting small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and looks into the main monitoring and accountability constraints when using financial intermediaries. It finds that financial intermediaries and existing investment instruments are very limited when it comes to targeting LICs and SMEs in sectors that are particularly vulnerable to climate change. It also finds a lack of transparency, making comprehensive monitoring difficult.

Reyes, O. (2013) Critical Issues for Channelling Climate Finance via Private Sector Actors, BOND

Policymakers are now exploring ways to encourage private sector finance for climate action in developing countries, i.e. investment in projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build capacity to adapt to climate change impacts. This paper examines the evidence from existing channelling of development and climate finance via private sector instruments to identify the probable risks and benefits of such approaches.

Stadelmann, M., Castro, P., & Michaelowa, A. (2011). Mobilising Private Finance for Low-Carbon Development: Tackling Barriers to Investments in Developing Countries and Accounting of Private Climate Flows, Climate Strategies

This report looks at different tools for leveraging private finance, as well as looking at how to measure their impact.

Venugopal, S. and A. Srivastava (2012) Moving the Fulcrum: A Primer on Public Climate Financing Instruments Used to Leverage Private Capital

“Targeting public finance to leverage private sector capital can help meet the several hundred billion dollars of annual low-carbon investment required in developing countries,” according to this paper. It serves as a primer on how the public sector can employ different types of public financing instruments — whether loans, equity, or de-risking instruments — alongside policy and technical support to scale-up private sector investment in climate finance and clean energy.

Venugopal, S., A. Srivastava, C. Polycarp and E. Taylor (2013) Public Financing Instruments to Leverage Private Capital for Climate-relevant investment: focus on multilateral agencies

World Resources Institute study of how the World Bank Group, Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Clean Technology Fund seek to leverage private sector investment for climate-relevant projects.

Whitley, S. (2013) Five early lessons from donors’ use of climate finance to mobilise the private sector

A survey of private climate finance projects, which finds that most are funding targets “efficient” fossil fuel generation and solar power in middle-income countries, private sector intermediaries are often used to channel funds, loans are the most common “leveraging” tool, a lot of public support is tied to donor country industries, and that very little private finance has actually been mobilised to date.

Private Equity

Bracking, S. “How do Investors Value Environmental Harm/Care? Private Equity Funds, Development Finance Institutions and the Partial Financialization of Nature-based Industries.” Development and Change 43, no. 1(2012) : 271-293

Private equity funds, mostly domiciled in secrecy jurisdictions, are dominant investors in the resource-based economies of Africa. Some of their investments speculate on biodiversity and ecosystems, but they are also heavily invested in mining, energy and infrastructure. This article reviews how private equity funds, and their partners in development finance institutions, frame and value their impact. It finds that their use of pseudo-mathematical methods bears only a marginal relation to the material world it seeks to measure and protect, but that these calculative devices are used to legitimize pre-existing power structures which exploit natural resources in Africa for the benefit of money-holders.

Singh, K. (2008) “Taking It Private : The Global Consequences of Private Equity”

Private equity has become an integral component of the world’s financial system at a time when financial markets have overshadowed the productive economy. Insofar as it constitutes a new form of corporate ownership and thus of power, private equity poses new challenges to labor unions, NGOs and community groups. This paper looks at the social, environmental and political impacts of private equity, using India as a case study of its growing importance in Southern countries.

Public Private Partnerships

Bankwatch, Overpriced and underwritten – The hidden costs of Public-Private-Partnerships

Despite a multitude of problems, public-private partnerships (PPPs) are being promoted in various countries as a solution to finance infrastructure projects with limited public budgets. This website is aimed at providing critical information about public-private partnerships to those who might be curious to dig deeper: activists, NGOs, researchers, journalists, and anyone else.

Whitfield, D. (2012) PPP Wealth Machine: UK and Global trends in trading project ownership

Public-Private Partnerships have had a key role in accelerating and embedding financialization in the public sector and the economy. This report and database look at global trends in who owns these projects.

Whitfield, D. (2010) Global Auction of Public Assets – Public Sector Alternatives to the Infrastructure Market & Public Private Partnerships, Spokesman Books

Public infrastructure provides basic human needs – from water to energy, transport systems, hospitals and schools. But the wider adoption of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and growth of the global infrastructure market, financed by investment funds and pension funds, could fuel a new era of public asset sales. This book looks at how PPPs are promoted by the World Bank, IMF, development banks and via bilateral agreements in developing countries and the industrialized north. It notes that over US$500bn of PPP projects have failed, have little democratic control or transparency, are costly, lack innovation and are approved on narrow value for money or fraudulent public sector comparators. PPPs are ultimately publicly financed, either directly by government or indirectly through user charges, fares and tolls.