International Cooperation and Development
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EU development funding for environment and climate change

The EU is committed to spending 20% of its total budget for 2014-2020 on climate change. This article presents the state of play with regard to actual financial contributions by the European Commission’s DG International Cooperation & Development (DEVCO) to climate change and other environmental objectives over the past four years (2014-2017), based on data from the Environment and Climate Change Mainstreaming Facility (DEVCO C2-C6), with particular attention to the energy sector.

In the previous budgetary period (2007-2013), climate-relevant spending represented 8.1 % of total development and cooperation-related spending. Analysis of DEVCO financial commitments from 2014 to 2017 (four years) shows that climate spending amounts to 19.3 % (EUR 6.447 of EUR 33.391 billion) of total DEVCO spending.

The graph below shows the cumulative contributions (2014-2017) by DG DEVCO to environment and climate change. Note that figures for climate change mitigation and adaptation cannot be added together, as some actions contribute to both objectives – in which case the contribution to one theme only is counted.


Analysing the data in more detail, we can observe a positive trend over the years. The graph below covers all DEVCO instruments and sectors as well as the European Development Fund (EDF):

Contributions to climate action increased from 10.3 % (EUR 607 million) in 2014 to 25.8 % (EUR 2.448 billion) in 2017 (data still not official). Note that both actions that target climate change as a principal objective and those that 'mainstream' climate change as a 'significant objective' make substantial contributions to the EU commitment. Similar positive trends are observed for contributions to environment, biodiversity and combating desertification (29.6 %, 7.1 % and 6.2 % of total commitments in 2017, respectively). 

Zooming in on the energy sector, we observe that it is among the largest contributors to climate finance, with an average contribution of 56 % (EUR 1.121 billion) of its sector budget in 2014-2017, reflecting a steady increase from 48 % in 2014 to almost 70 % in 2017.

The energy sector primarily contributes to climate change mitigation (69.4 % of sector funding in 2017) as actions aim at renewable energy development and energy efficiency, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But the sector also contributes to climate change adaptation (14% of sector funding in 2017), in particular when energy infrastructure is designed in a climate-resilient manner.

While attention to integration of environment and climate change is growing, there is room for improvement. Projects are not always informed by an analysis of the environmental and climate change risks, and climate vulnerability of infrastructure is seldom addressed. The sector also offers opportunities to contribute to biodiversity and combat desertification, which are often not seized.

See also "Mainstreaming environment and climate change in the energy sector – Training" article in this newsletter.

For questions or technical support, please contact the Environment and climate change mainstreaming facility: