Climate Finance Initiative

Project leader(s)

Only a rapid transition to a low carbon economy will prevent dangerous climate change and its catastrophic consequences. Achieving such a transition will require vast amounts of finance (some US$7.7 trillion per year) for climate action: finance which only the private sector has the ability to provide. But scaling up climate finance — for low-carbon infrastructure, renewable energy, energy efficiency and other mitigation measures — would involve transforming a finance sector that has only recently begun its journey towards sustainability.

What might precipitate a shift in risk perceptions such that institutional investors become willing to invest in low carbon projects to scale? How might a wide range of financial institutions be incentivised to address climate risks across the financial system as a matter of enlightened self-interest? Front and centre in catalyzing a low carbon financial revolution will be regulation and governance.

The Climate Finance Initiative, located within the world-renowned School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) in the Australian National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific, aims to play a leading role in research, policy engagement and capacity building on its two core streams of research: climate finance regulation and climate finance governance within the region.

How reconfigured regulation could facilitate the transition

Climate finance regulation: As the global financial crisis made clear, financial markets require regulation because left underregulated, they can cause profound economic and social harm. In the case of climate finance, reconfigured regulation could play crucial roles in: promoting financial stability during a low carbon transition; protecting investors from market failure; informing the market and reducing systemic climate related risk; incentivising financial institutions to factor climate risks in their decision making; and directing capital flows to meet climate objectives.

Not governments alone, but other non-state ‘governors’

Climate finance governance (social steering): Governments are not necessarily the key actors in managing events and markets —non-state actors, amongst others, may be equally important ‘governors’. Not only do governments sometimes lack the political will or capacity to achieve ambitious climate mitigation goals but the amount of money that will be required far exceeds that which governments alone might credibly provide. Institutional investors have capacities that governments lack and can play pivotal roles in climate governance through their ability to provide capital to finance the transition to a low-carbon economy and by various other means. Now is a particularly important time to harness those capacities and shape the roles that institutional investors might play in climate change mitigation.

However, currently, many financial market regulators, particularly in Asia and the Pacific, have only recently begun to think about these issues, or to ask what sort of compliance and enforcement mechanisms are likely to be most effective, efficient and equitable in delivering on their intended policy goals. Empirical and theoretical studies of climate finance are also nascent. Equally, there has been little attention given to the role that other ‘governors’, might play in fast tracking a climate finance revolution, not least those of a range of third parties such bond rating agencies, financial NGOs, independent auditors, who might, for example, act surrogate regulators.

Climate Finance Initiative portal

We are delighted to launch the Climate Finance Initiative portal. This initiative aims to shape governance and regulatory solutions to climate change, one of the most serious problems of our time, in the Asia Pacific, a most profoundly and existentially affected region. The Climate Finance Initiative provides much needed knowledge, research and capacity building in the Asia-Pacific, starting with Fiji and Indonesia.

The portal is a great way to access all our research, and other outputs such as blogs and podcasts. We also offer various interactive tools for policy makers, to support them through their vital roles as climate finance governors. The portal also links these governors with regulatory and governance experts through our ‘ask an expert’ function.

Explore the Climate Finance Initiative portal here.

Image by Zbynek Burival on Unsplash

Harnessing financial markets and institutional investment to increase the penetration of clean energy in Asia and the Pacific

27 January 2021

Climate change and energy poverty are just two of the key global challenges that the world is currently facing.

Pollution Image by marcinjozwiak from Pixabay

The Climate Finance Initiative and capacity building in Fiji

20 December 2019

Climate change presents a profound threat to our region, one most felt by our Pacific Island neighbours, manifesting in rising seas, extreme weather events, widespread loss, damage, and displac

Image: Free-Photos (Pixabay) under Pixabay Licence

RegNet researchers awarded ARC Discovery Project grants

05 December 2019

We are delighted to announce that RegNet’s Miranda Forsyth,


Image: Kirsty Anantharajah (RegNet)

Ms Kirsty Anantharajah

Kirsty is a research associate on Professor Neil Gunningham’s DFAT funded project, Harnessing financial markets and institutional investment to increase the penetration...

Image: Honorary Professor Howard Bamsey (RegNet)

Howard Bamsey

Howard Bamsey is Chair of the Global Water Partnership and Honorary Professor in the School of Regulation and Global Governance at the Australian National University. He is member of the Board of...

Image: Associate Professor Christian Downie (RegNet)

Dr Christian Downie

Christian Downie is an Associate Professor in the School of Regulation and Global Governance at the Australian National University. He holds an Australian Research Council DECRA...

Professor Bridget Hutter

Bridget Hutter has a Chair in Risk Regulation at the London School of Economics. She studied sociology at the Universities of London and Oxford and has previously worked at the Centre for Socio-...

Lachlan James

Lachlan has a broad-ranging background in venture capital, engineering, law, entrepreneurship, renewable energy, finance and government policy.

Most recently, Lachlan has been working with...

Dr Abidah Setyowati

Abidah Setyowati is a senior social development specialist working on social dimensions of climate change with The World Bank,...


Dr Darren Sinclair

Darren Sinclair has a BSc (Hons I) from the University of Sydney, and a Masters and PhD from the Australian National University. He represented Australia at the United...

Climate, energy & the environment cluster

Climate, energy and the environment

This cluster has four broad regulatory and governance research themes: identifying obstacles and options for effective energy governance; analysing state and private governance mechanisms for mitigating climate change; examining the opportunities and constraints of the green economy in transforming infrastructure and urban development; and exploring creative regulatory solutions to transnational environmental problems.

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet