Climate change is arguably the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced. Huge expense is needed to prevent and respond to it. This means tempting opportunities for corruption. Some estimates put total investments to offset the effects of climate change at almost US $700 billion by 2020. Most of this will flow through new, uncoordinated channels. There are grey zones and loopholes in regulations, and these risk being exploited by corrupt interests. They’re made more dangerous by pressure to ‘fast-track’ solutions.
Yet essential concepts are still being debated (what counts as a forest?). There are still few rules for geo-engineering (climate manipulation) – perhaps one of the riskiest human activities for the environment. And ways to measure the effects of carbon offsets are relatively untested. Meanwhile, the people worst affected by climate change are usually excluded from the debate. The voices of indigenous and remote communities and poor people in cities are rarely heard. This shows how urgently we need open, accountable climate governance. The solution?