The head of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' $10 billion Bezos Earth Fund has joined calls for governments to take on more of the risk of financing climate action, and help the world's development banks become more flexible in their approach.
Policymakers at the U.N. climate conference in Scotland are pushing private sector investors to use their trillions of dollars in capital to help drive the transition to low-carbon economies in emerging markets.
In developing economies, those projects often carry more risk than in more developed markets, and require the assistance of supranational development banks - whose lending processes may not have been updated for the challenges of climate change.
"We need, occasionally, to think about systemic change, and I believe the time is now," Earth Fund CEO Andrew Steer, a former World Bank executive, said on the sidelines of the COP26 talks.
'We Need ... Disruptive Change'
"There tends to be a certain inertia ... a certain path dependency and we need to ... have a little more disruptive change."
He said one "very good" option could be to use government guarantees, which could be provided as quasi capital to the banks, allowing them to leverage up their investable funds.
Larry Fink, chief executive of BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, has also previously urged governments to rethink the role of the multilateral lenders.
Fink said he wanted the banks to be allowed to take on more risk, which would give private sector investors more protection.
Steer's call follows news last week that banks, asset managers and insurers with $130 trillion at their disposal had pledged to align their investments with the U.N. goal of reaching 'net zero' greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Currently, very little of that capital is likely to be allocated to emerging market countries, Steer said.
He said the development banking system was "not big enough to play the role it needs to play," and more innovative thinking was required.
"At the moment, we aren't getting the leverage from public funds into the multilateral development banks the way we need to," Steer said. "We need ... to convene some very serious thoughts about this."
The Earth Fund last week pledged $2 billion towards projects aimed at restoring land and bolstering food systems, adding to a $1 billion pledge in September to help protect biodiversity and fund conservation projects.
© 2024 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.