This paper identifies and explores a number of challenges in using international public climate finance effectively towards contributing to low-carbon and resilient growth in lower- and middle-income countries. We explore key quantitative and qualitative trends in the climate finance architecture, including predictability of disbursements, affordability and concessionality of funding, provider proliferation and project fragmentation, implementation via modalities supporting recipient ownership, and the degree to which climate-related interventions are evaluated. Our research considers these trends against globally agreed principles of development effectiveness, with the aim of improving understandings of both the common and the climate-specific challenges within development finance. Ultimately, we find that climate-related development finance faces a number of challenges relative to other official development flows, including significantly lower disbursement ratios, a higher share of finance provided through debt instruments—and a rising share of loans to lower-income countries assessed as being at high risk of debt distress, a faster pace in proliferation of providers and shrinking project sizes, and fewer efforts to systematically evaluate impacts of interventions. Each of these areas will need to be tackled by public climate finance providers to ensure that the available funding is used towards climate objectives effectively. These and other issues related to the quality of climate finance should also be considered during the design of the new quantitative climate finance target under the UNFCCC to ensure that the structure of the goal promotes accountability and increases recipients’ ability to trust in the climate finance architecture.
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