Q&A: ‘There’s a Lot More Climate Finance Available than People Think’

Dr. Frank Rijsberman, director-general of the Global Green
Growth Institute (GGGI), says the largest amounts of money
available is with the private sector and institutional development
such as pension funds. This, he says, can be accessed for climate
change mitigation. Credit: Yazeed Kamaldien/IPS

By Yazeed Kamaldien
CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Jan 11 2019 (IPS)

While growth in the green economy looks promising, government
regulation and a business-as-usual approach are among the hurdles
inhibiting cleaner energy production.

Dr. Frank Rijsberman, director-general of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI),
believes shifts are needed to realise more projects. And he
believes funding is available.

“We have teams in more than 30 countries. We work on policy
barriers and help develop bankable projects. In the last two years
we have helped our member countries mobilise at least one billion
dollars in green and climate finance,” Rijsberman told IPS. GGGI
is a treaty-based international organisation that assists countries
develop a green growth model.

Rijsberman was among panelists discussing ‘Unlocking Finance
for Sustainability’ at the Partnership for Action on Green
Economy (PAGE) Ministerial Conference
being held in Cape Town,
South Africa from Jan. 10 to 11. It gathered government leaders,
businesses and environmentalists to focus on the challenge to
“reduce inequalities, protect the environment and grow the
economy”.

The conference focused on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
Development, adopted three years ago.

“It is time now to take these global goals and turn them into
real changes in the lives of people and nations. It’s time for
action,” stated the conference agenda.

“We can restructure our economic and financial systems to
transform them into drivers of sustainability and social inclusion;
the two prerequisites for achieving the Sustainable Development
Goals and targets of the Paris Agreement on climate change,” it
continued.

At the December United Nations’ Climate Conference in
Katowice, Poland, where ministers from around the world negotiated
on how best to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement, which outlines
commitments to mitigate climate change, accessing finance was a
topical issue. IPS reported from the 24th
Conference Of The Parties (COP24)
 that the African team of
negotiators
had been concerned
about who would carry the burden of
financing the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

PAGE gathered around 500 innovators and leaders from
governments, civil society, private sector, development
organisations, media and the general public. The idea was to
showcase “the experiences and creativity of first-movers…and
engage in an open debate about what it is going to take to for us
to have a ‘just transition’ to economics and societies that are
more inclusive, stable and sustainable.”

Rijsberman offered his insights gained from working in different
countries on accessing financing for green projects.

Excerpts of the interview follow:

Inter Press Service (IPS): Where is this money that you
mention for green projects?

Frank Rijsberman (FR): There’s a lot more finance available
than people think. There tends to be an over focus on development
money but the largest amounts of money is with the private sector
and institutional development such as pension funds. We need to get
the private sector off the sidelines and to invest in renewable
energy.

IPS: And how can that be done?

FR: They need to realise that green investments are attractive.
If you want to do socially important projects then renewable energy
is it. It has become the cheapest, most attractive form of
energy.

IPS: What about the role that governments play in this?
They are the regulators that sometimes inhibit the private
sector.

FR: Sometimes we sit in the room with the private sector and ask
them what stops them from investing and they say it’s regulation
and policies. We have to find a more welcoming environment.

We talk to governments and they talk about a study they did
three years ago and tell us renewable energy is expensive. But we
tell them prices have come down. All that governments know is how
to build fossil fuel power plants. Fossil fuel project developers
are still in their contact lists. The banks know what to do. They
need to look at an energy mix.

IPS: So what is it about government policies that hinder
moves to renewable energy?

FR: Some governments have laws that they use to disconnect
companies from power if they put solar on their rooftops. Other
countries, like Finland, still have old polices that are bad and
that are still on the books. It is also difficult politically when
the government subsidises fuel and not renewable energy.
Governments need to remove policy barriers.

We are in the middle of such a rapid transition but if you sit
in a country where governments don’t see that it’s
difficult.

Coal and oil is more certain [to produce power] but for
countries that need to import that, where prices are uncertain,
it’s a lot more certain to use the sun and wind if you have this
in your country.

IPS: How is the prospect for renewable energy looking in
the developing world?

FR: If you are using only coal-fired power plants then you will
sit with a stranded asset. Countries that already have a lot of
investment in fossil fuels will find the change to renewable energy
painful.

In Africa, most countries don’t have this. In some countries
only 20 percent of people have energy access. These countries can
invest in green energy and they can avoid making bad investments
and can leapfrog into renewables.

They don’t have to look like Asia where they have rapidly
developed economies and sit with coal-fired power stations that
pollute their cities.

There is a real opportunity to avoid the problems that other
countries have.

IPS: What about developing country examples of renewable
energy that worked?

FR: Just two years ago when the Indian government wanted to a
build a power plant they found the prices of large-scale solar
panels less than coal-fired power plants. They scrapped all their
plans. They are looking at solar power projects.

But there is still a lot of inertia. People are still continuing
to invest in fossil fuels. We are trying to show governments
through information and projects that this is feasible. We want to
show how it can reduce risk.

We are working on projects. In Fiji the government gives a
subsidy to low-income houses for electricity. We have proposed a
project where the government puts solar panels on the roof and uses
the same subsidy to finance this. It’s about using that money for
sustainability.

Low-income houses have TVs and mobile phones. Making a package
for people that puts solar on their roof is better. They can charge
their mobile phones and [solar] also connects to their fridge and
TV. Social movements have done this in some countries.

The post
Q&A: ‘There’s a Lot More Climate Finance Available than
People Think’
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

IPS Correspondent Yazeed Kamaldien speaks to DR. FRANK
RIJSBERMAN, director-general of the Global Green Growth Institute
(GGGI) about accessing finance for climate mitigation.

The post
Q&A: ‘There’s a Lot More Climate Finance Available than
People Think’
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Q&A: ‘There’s a Lot More Climate Finance Available than People Think’