Delivering on US Climate Finance Commitments

39 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2011 Last revised: 11 Jan 2012

See all articles by Trevor Houser

Trevor Houser

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Jason Selfe

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: November 23, 2011


At the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen in 2009 and Cancun in 2010, the United States joined other developed countries in pledging to mobilize $100 billion in public and private sector funding to help developing countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a warmer world. With a challenging US fiscal outlook and the failure of cap-and-trade legislation in the US Congress, America's ability to meet this pledge is increasingly in doubt. This paper identifies, quantifies, and assesses the politics of a range of potential US sources of climate finance. It finds that raising new public funds for climate finance will be extremely challenging in the current fiscal environment and that many of the politically attractive alternatives are not realistically available absent a domestic cap-and-trade program or other regime for pricing carbon. Washington's best hope is to use limited public funds to leverage private sector investment through bilateral credit agencies and multilateral development banks.

Keywords: climate change, carbon, climate finance, UNFCCC, Copenhagen Accord, Cancun Agreements, development assistance, adaptation, green fund, multilateral development banks, fossil fuel subsidies, emission offsets, bilateral credit agencies

JEL Classification: Q00, Q27, Q48, Q54, F18, F35, F50, F51, F52, F53, F55

Suggested Citation

Houser, Trevor and Selfe, Jason, Delivering on US Climate Finance Commitments (November 23, 2011). Peterson Institute for International Economics Working Paper No. 11-19. Available at SSRN: or

Trevor Houser (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Jason Selfe

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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