Serious corruption risk in drive to combat climate change

6th May 2011

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Natural resources ,
  • Mitigation ,
  • Central government ,
  • Adaptation



Governments must strengthen their oversight of policies and projects tackling climate change to prevent billions of pounds being lost and protect vulnerable communities, warns a global anti-corruption body.

Robust systems of measuring and reporting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, better regulation of carbon markets and greater transparency of climate change project funding are urgently needed according to Transparency International’s latest global anti-corruption report.

The 400-page report is compiled of contributions from 50 experts from around the world such as Sheila Jasanoff Havard University’s Pforzheimer professor of science and technology studies, and Taryn Fransen, senior associate with the Climate and Energy Program at the World Resources Institute
It details a range of corruption risks from business miscounting GHG emissions and the mismanagement of funds for climate change projects, to the lack of stakeholder involvement in national policy creation.

The organisation estimates that £152 billion of public funding will soon to be flowing through “uncoordinated, untested channels” each year, much of which will end in countries which are perceived as suffering from high levels of corruption.

The report highlights the interest in installing solar power plants in North Africa, but warns that between 5% – 30% of construction costs are lost to corruption in developing countries.

Deforestation is another area of concern. It is estimated £17 billion will soon be paid to government’s each year to protect their rainforests, but the illegal logging trade, now worth £6 billion a year, is aided by corrupt customs and land management authorities.

The report also warns of the risk of a “green resource curse” for countries with natural resources needed for low-carbon technologies, such as lithium for solar panels. It argues that mining and quarrying companies must be forced to publicly disclose payments to make it more likely the country’s citizens benefit from the industry.

“An unfortunate fact of human nature is that, where there is money to be made, corruption quickly follows,” wrote Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace, in his foreword to the report.

The report examines in detail current climate change policy, how it is formed and its accountability, before looking at the role of the private sector, the effectiveness of carbon markets and the reaction of the developing world to the impact of climate change.

Its recommendations include greater transparency of information and public involvement in policy making to limit conflicts of interest (see full list below).

To download the report visit the Transparency International website.

Recommended actions

  • Governments must ensure oversight bodies are staffed by salaried professionals, proven to be free from conflicts of interest
  • Ensure transparency funding for mitigation and adaptation
  • Monitor and oversee national climate policy and projects effectively
  • Treat anti-corruption safeguards as integral elements in the design of adaptation and mitigation action
  • Step up policy coordination to bring key government departments and agencies into line on climate change issues
  • Build robust mechanisms for representation and public engagement that can cope with the increased public demand
  • Be a powerful voice in climate policy through open engagement and disclosure; it is an essential plank of corporate citizenship and a marker of commitment to climate change
  • While going green, adhere to strong compliance, an anti-corruption regime and best corporate governance practice
  • Commit ample resources to transparency, the disclosure of carbon emissions and green climate action
  • Promote greater public oversight of countries’ commitments to cutting emission by incorporating anti-corruption tools into existing assessments
  • Encourage the public’s participation in and oversight of policy development at the local, national and international levels
  • Build broader coalitions for integrity in climate governance and ensure that the interests of all stakeholders are represented and taken into account


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