Guidance: International Climate Finance

Department For International Development

September 23
11:28 2021

Climate change is a global challenge that affects us all. No country is projected to be spared from the impacts of further global temperature increases and we are already facing serious challenges to the natural environment; to food production; and to water resources. Without concerted global action to limit and manage the impact of climate change, we could reverse the huge gains in global poverty reduction which the UK has helped achieve over the last 3 decades.

UK International Climate Finance (ICF) plays a crucial role in addressing this global challenge. Three government Departments (DFID, BEIS and Defra) have responsibility for investing the UKs 5.8bn of ICF between 2016 and 2021.

Our ICF delivers in the national interest, delivering all 4 aims of the UK aid strategy:

  • strengthening global peace, security and governance
  • strengthening resilience and response to crises
  • promoting global prosperity
  • tackling extreme poverty and helping the worlds most vulnerable

If we do not tackle climate change, it will undo the progress made globally to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. We directly support the goals on climate action and affordable and clean energy, as well as indirectly supporting many others.


Domestically and internationally the UK is a leader on climate change. We played a pivotal role in securing the Paris Agreement in 2015, where the world came together to agree a plan to limit temperature rises to below 2 degrees. We have reduced our emissions quicker than any other country in the G20, drawing on the depth and breadth of UK low carbon knowledge and expertise and creating new economic opportunities. Since 1990 the UK economy has grown by two thirds while emissions have fallen by over 40%. We have ended UK support for unabated coal power generation and, across the world, UK businesses are helping to make the global low carbon transition a reality.

The UK honours its international obligations. Alongside other developed countries, we have committed to jointly mobilise $100bn per year in climate finance to developing countries from public and private sources. This was instrumental in securing the landmark Paris Agreement. As part of this commitment, we pledged to provide at least 5.8bn of International Climate Finance (ICF) between 2016 and 2020. This is official development assistance from DFID, BEIS and Defra. It aims for an even split between mitigation and adaptation and places us amongst the worlds leading providers of climate finance. We have also committed up to $5bn with Germany and Norway for countries who bring forward ambitious projects to halt deforestation.

Investing our climate finance today helps reduce costs tomorrow. Every 1 invested well in climate-related risk reduction saves more than 3 (and up to 50) in avoided disaster impacts. Similarly, every pound spent cutting CO2 pays for itself between five- and twenty-fold by offsetting the future costs of climate change. Our ICF does this by:

  • building the resilience of the poorest people and communities. It supports countries to prepare for and adapt to climate change, improving how disasters are managed and reducing the harm they cause and the costs of responding

BRACED Programme, DFID

  • working to ensure that the vast expansion in infrastructure in developing countries is low carbon and climate resilient using our finance to build capacity and unlock greater flows of private finance towards clean growth, bringing down the costs of a global low carbon transition in the process;

Carbon Initiative for Development, World Bank Group

  • supporting work to halt deforestation and create new supply chains that are both profitable and sustainable. We help communities to use land in ways that reduce emissions and improve productivity whilst protecting and restoring forests that support important biodiversity and fragile eco-systems.

Capacity building to spot early signs of deforestation in Colombia

Our results

Although ICF Results are not Official Statistics, where possible we follow the Code of Practice for Statistics. This Statement of voluntary compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics for UK Climate Finance results estimates (PDF, 97.5 KB, 2 pages) demonstrates the steps taken in recent years to improve the trustworthiness, quality and value of ICF Results.

We are committed to understanding and measuring the impact of our investments, and annually publish a set of key results.

View previous ICF results publications and KPI methodologies.

Case studies

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs)

Solar power complex in Ouarzazate Morocco

Climate finance practitioners from around the globe are gathering in January 2019 in Morocco to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) one of the worlds largest and most ambitious climate finance mechanisms.

Co-founded by the UK in 2008, the CIFs are designed to help developing countries transition towards low-carbon and climate-resilient development. The UK is the largest contributor, having invested 2 billion (almost $3 billion) of the $8 billion disbursed to projects that reduce emissions, support clean growth, build climate resilience and protect forests.

The event is being held at the worlds largest solar farm in Ouarzazate on the edge of the Sahara Desert. This groundbreaking 500 MW Concentrated Solar Power complex, which UK funding helped establish, supplies clean power to 1.1 million Moroccans. Its sheer scale has driven down the costs of this cutting-edge technology by 50%, enabling the Moroccan government to raise its renewables energy target to 42% by 2020.?

Over the past 10 years, the CIFs have funded over 300 projects in more than 70 countries and are expected to:

  • deliver 26.5 GW of new clean power - more than the total power capacity of the Netherlands
  • provide 8.5 million people with improved access to energy - equivalent to the population of Sierra Leone
  • place 36 million hectares of forests under improved management -

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