International Financial Institutions, Climate Change and the Urgency to Facilitate Clean Energy Investment in Developing and Emerging Market Economies


Hilmar Þór Hilmarsson, Ph.D.
University of Akureyri, Akureyri, Iceland

Series: Economic Issues, Problems and Perspectives, Financial Institutions and Services
BISAC: BUS070140

Climate change is perhaps among the most serious challenges that humankind has ever faced and perhaps the greatest market failure the world has ever seen. At the same time, clean unutilized energy resources around the world are available that could help remedy climate and environmental problems while also improving people’s lives. It is likely that most of the increased demand for energy in the future will be in the developing and emerging world. This is also where most unutilized clean energy sources are located. The challenge of climate change requires strong comprehensive and firm action from the international community. Clean energy projects tend to be large, capital intensive and long term. They require long term commitment from all the players involved as well as mutual trust. International financial institutions (IFIs), including the World Bank Group and regional development banks can play a key role in promoting the use of clean energy sources by facilitating clean energy investment in developing and emerging markets. This book focuses on those challenges, mainly using geothermal energy projects as examples, but also by providing an example of a large hydropower project to illustrate how the funding and risk mitigation instruments of IFIs, as well as national agencies such as export credit agencies (ECA)s, have been used to mobilize funds in a difficult investment environment.

The book is divided into eleven chapters. Chapter One discusses the current global investment regime and the absence of an international organization for investments comparable to the World Trade Organization that focuses on cross border trade. Chapter Two examines the World Bank Group and its emphasis on loans instead of guarantees for capital mobilization. Chapter Three discusses international financial institutions, including regional development banks and their risk mitigation instruments. Chapter Four focuses on how IFIs can make more use of their instruments to support cross border clean energy projects in developing and emerging economies. Chapter Five assesses the effectiveness of the risk mitigation instruments used by the World Bank Group. Chapter Six analyses the upfront development costs associated with geothermal development and geothermal projects. Chapter Seven analyses the costs and benefits of deploying public-private partnerships for clean energy projects. Chapter Eight focuses on contested multilateralism and the recent establishment of new international financial institutions under Chinese leadership, i.e. the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development (BRICS) Bank. Chapter Nine examines Iceland with its geothermal cluster as well as how developing and emerging countries could learn from Iceland’s experience. Chapter Ten analyses selected cross border clean energy projects, including geothermal and hydropower, and shows how various funding and risk mitigation instruments have been used in practice. Chapter Eleven stresses the urgency for global action to address the climate crisis facing humankind. Finally, the concluding chapter shows how international financial institutions can be key instruments for successful global climate solutions. The book draws on the author’s experience in three continents (Africa, Asia and Europe) as a staff member of the World Bank Group.



Table of Contents



Acronyms and Abbreviations


Introduction. Clean Energy, Environmental Degradation and Climate Change – the Global Challenge

Chapter 1. The Global Cross Border Investment Regime and the Lack of an International Investment Organization

Chapter 2. The World Bank Group: Loans vs. Guarantees?

Chapter 3. International Financial Institutions and Risk Mitigation

Chapter 4. How International Financial Institutions Can Support Cross Border Clean Energy Projects

Chapter 5. The World Bank Group and the Effectiveness of its Risk Mitigation Instruments

Chapter 6. Geothermal Development and Upfront Development Costs

Chapter 7. Public Private Partnerships – Costs and Benefits

Chapter 8. Contested Multilateralism – The United States and China

Chapter 9. The Icelandic Geothermal Cluster and Cross Border Engagement

Chapter 10. Cross Border Clean Energy Investment: Funding and Risk Mitigation – Some Selected Cases

Chapter 11. A Tale of Two Crises and the Need for Action

Conclusions. International Financial Institutions as Key Instruments for Successful Global Climate Solutions



Book Endorsements

About the Author



“Developing and emerging economies are rapidly approaching the technological frontier through various structural changes, and huge increases in their energy requirements are foreseeable. In his new book, Professor Hilmarsson is concerned with ways to minimize the likely environmental damage and offers sensible ideas about ways to encourage a large-scale transition to clean energy sources, in particular how best to stimulate investments in geothermal and hydropower projects. He makes a well-informed and convincing case that international financial institutions, including the World Bank Group, in partnership with the private sector, should scale up their efforts and co-ordinate investment in clean energy infrastructures. In spite of alarming reports, the practical response of international financial institutions to the environmental crisis is lukewarm. Hilmarsson makes a valuable contribution by mapping the way ahead.” – Professor Thráinn Eggertsson, Institute of Economic Studies, University of Iceland and Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, Germany

“In this book Professor Hilmarsson, a World Bank Group insider for 12 years, offers an interesting and well-informed analysis of international financial institutions (IFIs) and how they can help solve one of the world’s greatest problems – the transition to clean energy. Too often IFIs’ efforts are hampered by bureaucratic procedures that make them less effective and their clean energy portfolio in developing and emerging countries still remains small. In addition to funding and risk mitigation instruments, IFIs are particularly well placed to provide policy advice and technical assistance to governments implementing energy sector reform. This book is an important and timely contribution to the debate on clean energy and climate change.” – Professor Dr. Erika Sumilo, Head of the Department of International Economics and Business, University of Latvia

“The utilization of clean energy resources in developing and emerging countries is among key challenges humankind is currently facing. Professor Hilmarsson offers a well-informed analysis on how international financial institutions can contribute more effectively to the transition to clean energy — a critical component for success in the battle against climate change. This book is insightful and the analysis is sound as Professor Hilmarsson draws on his experience from the World Bank for 12 years in three different continents.” – Professor Ligita Šimanskienė, Klaipėda University, Lithuania

“Clean energy investments, including geothermal and hydropower projects, tend to be large, with long repayment periods and often require cooperation between public, private and donor partners in emerging countries. Professor Hilmarsson shows how the funding and risk mitigation products of international financial institutions can be instrumental in mobilizing funds to make clean energy investments both possible and feasible. This is an important topic as vast clean energy sources still remain underutilized in emerging countries during a time of growing energy demand. Professor Hilmarsson also discusses Iceland’s transition to clean energy from which other countries may draw some valuable lessons. This is an important contribution that deserves attention and debate.” – Professor Anatoliy G. Goncharuk, Head of the Department of Business Administration and Corporate Security, International Humanitarian University, Ukraine

“In the context of increasing concerns on climate problems, clean energy has been suggested to be safe, environmental-friendly, and energy-efficient. Investment in energy infrastructure will be enormous in the future, especially in emerging market economies including in East Asia. While it is crucial that energy infrastructure be climate friendly and that environmental issues should be well considered, financing such infrastructure remains a challenge. Nonetheless, this new book of Professor Hilmarsson has identified and discussed potential solutions to help support and promote clean energy investment and increase the use of clean energy sources that are available on earth.” – Trung Quang Dinh M.Sc. in International Business and Pd.D. Candidate at Witten/Herdecke University

“As Professor Hilmarsson highlights in this book, no institution supports cross border investments in a similar way that the World Trade Organization does for cross border trade. This failure traces its roots all the way back to the Bretton Woods conference and is an impediment for clean energy investments, especially in developing and emerging countries, during a time of great need for a transition to clean energy sources. In this book Professor Hilmarsson shows how international financial institutions can more effectively support clean energy investments in a world challenged by climate change. A timely contribution and an enjoyable read.” – Dr. Sujit Kumar, Research Scholar, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and Assistant Professor, Sri Venkateswara College, University of Delhi, India


Additional Information

· Policy makers focusing on clean energy and climate issues in developing and emerging market economies
· Policy makers focusing on clean energy in international organizations especially international financial institutions
· Academic professionals focusing clean energy issues and emerging markets in departments of economics, environmental studies, business administration, political science and international affairs
· Managers and staff of companies who engage in cross border trade and investments in developing and emerging markets

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