International climate finance: UK aid for low-carbon development

We are conducting a performance review of the UK’s International Climate Finance (ICF) contribution to supporting low-carbon development in 2016-17 to 2017-18.


The UK’s International Climate Finance is a portfolio of investments designed to support the eradication of international poverty by helping developing countries manage risk, build resilience to the impacts of climate change, take up low-carbon development at scale and manage natural resources sustainably.

In 2015 the UK government committed to increasing its climate finance by 50%, to at least £5.8 billion over the five years to 2020-21, including at least £1.7 billion in 2020. In addition to being the UK’s primary instrument for funding international action on climate change, the ICF is also an instrument for influencing others to support global action on climate change.


The purpose of this ICAI review is to assess the contribution of the UK’s ICF portfolio to supporting low-carbon development. Low-carbon development refers to efforts to place national economies on a trajectory that both minimises greenhouse gas emissions and brings about economic growth, social inclusion and equity.

In 2014, ICAI conducted a review of the UK’s International Climate Fund which looked at climate change adaptation, low-carbon development, and forestry. This review focuses on just one of these outcomes – low-carbon development –  in order to allow for a deeper assessment of performance. Adaptation to climate change is excluded, as it was partially covered by the recent ICAI review on building resilience to natural disasters, and the forestry objective is excluded as it involves a much smaller investment.

ICAI has decided to conduct a performance review because of the scale and maturity of the UK’s international climate investments and the significant continuity in outcomes and partnerships since 2011. The review will consider the relevance of the ICF portfolio and approach, and the effectiveness of the funding and related influence. It will also have a significant focus on learning, reflecting the changes in governance and strategy in the current phase of the ICF.

Review questions

Through a combination of literature, strategy and institutional reviews, as well as thematic case studies, this review will answer the following review questions:

  • Does the ICF’s approach to low-carbon development reflect the needs of developing countries and the UK’s international commitments to climate finance?
  • How effective is the ICF at promoting low-carbon development?
  • How well do UK investments in low-carbon development promote and reflect learning and evidence?

Approach paper

For more information read the full approach paper:

ICAI approach paper –  International Climate Finance: UK aid for low-carbon development