Climate Finance

The climate crisis is arguably the biggest global challenge that we collectively face. Scientists predict we have a 10- to 30-year window to reduce carbon emissions if we want to contain global warming to 1.5°C and avoid catastrophic climate change.

The cost of responding to it, adapting to and mitigating the worst effects of global heating, will be immense. These huge financial investments create tempting opportunities for corruption.

About the Climate Finance Working Group

This group explores how corruption threatens climate efforts and supports the exchange of ideas on ways to address related issues. Strengthened collaboration between experts in the anti-corruption and conservation communities is essential to bridge knowledge gaps and advance solutions.

Meetings of the Climate Finance Working Group are chaired by Transparency International (TI) with support from the Green Climate Fund and are open to any professional in the Countering Environmental Crime Practitioners Forum who seeks to target corruption linked to climate finance.

Sessions are held under the Chatham House rule and convene virtually every other month. Updates, including member-recommended case studies and resources, are shared in the dedicated space on Basel LEARN open to Working Group members only.

To join this Working Group, join the Practitioners Forum and select the Working Group when submitting the form. Existing members can update their profile.

What are examples of climate finance corruption?

Examples of corruption linked to climate finance include, but are not limited to:

  • Politicians establishing policies or laws that serve the interests of extractive industries rather than the public good, in exchange for financial compensation or favors.
  • Companies or individuals laundering profits from illegal land conversion through shell companies.
  • Failed or faulty infrastructure projects, such as coastal defences or emergency shelters, for which contracts are awarded to those with ties to government.
  • Appropriation of indigenous peoples’ lands and harassment, intimidation or killing of those who raise their voices.
  • Lobbyists with ties to fossil fuel companies having an undue and disproportionate influence on the outcome of public talks on climate in important summits, thus delaying or negatively impacting climate action.

This short video by Transparency International explains some of the issues:

What are avenues for addressing corruption linked to climate finance?

In order to respond to this challenge, we need:

First, case studies that improve understanding of the challenges and impacts of corruption that facilitates climate change, which may otherwise seem too abstract to grasp.

Second, a living body of knowledge about integrity in climate finance.

Third, Good governance measures inserted into every climate fund and project that achieve the following:

  • Make budgets, financial flows, and other relevant data publicly available.
  • Involve local communities in decisions about how money is invested and spent.
  • Implement safeguards to prevent public officials and private operators getting kickbacks from climate projects.
  • Require accountability systems to ensure independent monitoring of climate actions.
  • Have safe and accessible complaint mechanisms that are available and promoted.
  • Protect whistleblowers and sanction corrupt actors.

Members of this Working Group have discussed the following opportunities for future cooperation:

  • Exchange case studies about specific types of climate finance corruption.
  • Share learnings about anti-corruption in the climate domain.
  • Showcase the use of specific tools that are relevant for climate finance and anti-corruption.
  • Advocate for further research/ studies to better understand the manifestation and consequences of corruption on the environment.

Recommended reading and tools

  • Is the climate crisis a corruption crisis? In this short interview for the Basel Institute on Governance, Brice Böhmer, Climate and Environment Lead at Transparency International, explains the nexus between climate and corruption and what needs to happen now.
  • Climate & Corruption Case Atlas: The first tool of its kind, this Atlas brings together case stories, analysis and learning about corruption trends in climate finance and projects. Drawing on global experience – from fossil-fuel lobbying to the illegal rosewood trade – its insights can support a wide range of climate stakeholders, including policymakers, practitioners, donors, civil society, affected communities, the media and activists.
  • Peer-to-Peer Learning Alliance on Climate Finance Integrity: This Alliance provides a platform for national and regional Accredited Entities to share challenges, experiences, and knowledge in a safe space. This enables them to adopt and implement robust integrity and anti-corruption policies and stakeholder engagement, safeguarding climate finance resources from corruption and misuse.