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Climate money at risk by corruption

$250 billion the amount of public money that could be spent on climate change mitigation per year

Significant investment funds will flow through new, relatively uncoordinated and untested channels that could be prone to corruption, Transparency International warns.  Under global climate agreements, substantial new funding from governments and multilateral agencies will be made available to finance mitigation of climate change, such as renewable energy projects like wind farms or solar power plants, and adaptation to it, such as constructions of sea walls, irrigations systems and disaster-ready housing. According to some estimates, investments in mitigation could reach $700 billion by 2020.

Meanwhile, the 20 countries expected to be most affected by climate change – where much of this money will be spent – are all perceived as more or less corrupt according to Transparency International. Corruption risks are also high because of the level of complexity, uncertainty and novelty that surrounds many climate issues. Essential concepts, such as what should count as a forest, or how to establish additionality (meaning whether projects could happen in any case without support), are still being debated. Rules for geoengineering, perhaps the most risky and consequential human intervention in our biosphere, are still largely absent, points out TI.

Even new tools to measure the environmental integrity of carbon offsets are relatively untested. Early evidence presented suggests that there are many regulatory grey zones and loopholes that are at risk of being exploited by corrupt interests.

The report also warns of the risk of a green resource curse. "New technologies needed to replace fossil fuels, such as solar panels, require different natural resources. It is important that the mining industry that exploits these resources is transparent and publicly discloses payments to governments so that citizens can ensure the proceeds are used for their benefits," TI says.

Similarly, governments that sell land for bio-fuel cultivation, estimated to be 10% of transport fuels in many of the world's leading economies by 2030, must allow for public participation and oversight so that local communities' land rights are respected, the organization suggests.