Accelerating the speed and scale of climate finance in the post-pandemic context
In this paper, we examine how to trigger a wave of low-carbon investments compatible with the well-below 2°C target of the Paris Agreement in the current post-pandemic context of increasing private and public debt. We argue that one major obstacle to catalysing global excess savings at sufficient scale and speed on climate mitigation, and to ‘greening’ economic recovery packages, lies in the up-front risks of low-carbon investment. We then explain why public guarantees should be the preferred risk-sharing instrument to overcome that obstacle. We outline the basic principles of a multilateral sovereign guarantee mechanism able to maximize the leverage effect of public funds and massively redirect global savings towards low-carbon investments, with the double benefit of bridging the infrastructure investment gap in developing countries and reducing tension between developed and developing countries around accelerated funding for low-carbon transitions. We carry out numerical simulations demonstrating how the use of guarantees from AAA-rated sovereigns, calibrated on an agreed-upon ‘social value of carbon’, is compatible with public-budget constraints of developed countries. In summary, the use of such guarantee mechanisms provides a new form of ‘where flexibility’, which could turn real-world heterogeneity into a source of reciprocal gains for both developed and developing countries, and contribute to meeting the USD 100 billion + pledge of the Paris Agreement.