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GCF targets private investment shift at inaugural climate conference

Incheon,
The Green Climate Fund’s first conference focusing exclusively on the private sector opens today in Incheon, the Republic of Korea.

The two-day Private Investment for Climate Conference addresses the need to capture the energies and entrepreneurship of businesses in tackling the climate challenge, and comes on the heels of a seminal UN report highlighting the urgency of action needed to keep global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

More than 600 guests from over 120 countries are gathering during the conference to explore how to unlock private sector financing. 

Youba Sokona, vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), will set the scene in the morning by quantifying the urgency of climate action evidenced by the release on Monday of the IPCC report Global Warming of 1.5°C.

The report finds that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require "rapid and far-reaching" transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. It also finds global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching 'net zero' around 2050.

GCF is hosting the Private Investment for Climate Conference to explore how businesses can help to scale up climate action by the large margins needed.

A unique aspect of GCF is its ability to engage with both the private and public spheres. GCF helps private companies invest in climate action by reducing their exposure through a number of different financial tools such as concessional loans and supported equity.

While GCF is the largest international climate fund helping developing countries, it recognises the need to tap the private sector to address the yawning gap in climate finance required to create paradigm-shifting change.

It is widely acknowledged the scale of the climate challenge requires a major switch of business investments to create and strengthen markets in low-emission and climate-resilient development.

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change, highlighted the need earlier this year for a major upsurge of climate finance, stating that “right now we are talking in millions and billions of dollars when we should be speaking in trillions.”

The conference will address how to clear current blockages in the private sector’s financing of climate action. This includes investigating insurance and reinsurance, as well at looking at ways to draw investment into adaptation.

It will also test whether entrepreneurs in developing countries are increasingly seeing low-carbon and climate-resilient growth not just as necessary for a liveable planet, but as a key business opportunity.

There are signs this could become a prevailing view. The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate has highlighted the power of profits, finding in its 2018 report that climate action could yield an economic gain of USD 26 trillion through to 2030 compared with business-as-usual.