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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is planning to meet directly with the heads of multilateral development banks (MDBs) to press for stronger steps on climate change.

Why it matters: Her announcement of the gathering shows how Treasury hopes to help steer more public and private capital toward emissions-cutting and adaptation in developing nations.

  • It's also a sign of the Treasury's expanding role on climate, including newly launched assessments of climate-related financial risks.

Driving the news: "I plan to shortly convene the heads of the MDBs to articulate our expectations that the MDBs align their portfolios with the Paris Agreement and net-zero goals as urgently as possible," Yellen told a climate conference in Venice Sunday just after the G20 finance ministers' meeting there.

  • Yellen said she also expects them to "more effectively mobilize" private capital.
  • But she also credited "tremendous work" MDBs are already doing.
  • World Bank Group president David Malpass told the conference that the group plans to devote an average of 35 percent of its 2021-2025 financing to climate.

The big picture: The U.S. helps fund institutions including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and others.

  • Yellen noted MDBs combined are among the largest sources of climate finance for developing nations.
  • She said banks the U.S. contributes to provided a combined $36 billion in climate finance in 2020, and help leverage private capital.
  • A separate communique from G20 finance ministers who met in Venice over the weekend also urges stronger steps from MDBs.

Threat level: Yellen's comments come as progress — or lack thereof — on wider climate finance efforts is potentially critical to the success of the United Nations climate talks in November.

  • Twelve years ago developed nations agreed to jointly mobilize $100 billion annually in funding by 2020 to help poor nations cut emissions and adapt to warming. That target has not yet been reached despite increased funding.
  • "$100 billion is a bare minimum. From the Caribbean to the Pacific, developing economies have been landed with enormous infrastructure bills because of a century of greenhouse gas emissions they had no part in. But the agreement has not been kept," U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres told the G20 finance summit Friday.

Go deeper: Yellen says COVID-19 variants could derail global recovery

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 15, 2021 - Energy & Environment

White House vows to treat climate change as "systemic" financial risk

Zailey Segura, Zavery Segura and their mother Karen Smith wade through flood waters while walking to the childrens fathers house after Hurricane Nicholas landed in Galveston, Texas on September 14, 2021. Photo: Mark Felix for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

A new White House report released Friday morning says climate change poses "systemic risks" to the U.S. financial system, and presents a "roadmap" to building a "climate-resilient" economy.

Why it matters: Top aides emphasized that framing to promote wide-ranging moves that will weave climate risk into many agencies' new policies and regulations.

Facing existential threat from climate change, Pacific Islanders urge world to listen

Climate organizer Moñeka De Oro (left), Guam Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio and Micronesia Climate Change Alliance. Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Courtesy of MCCA and the University of Guam Center for Island Sustainability

Decades after Pacific Islanders first raised the alarm, the rest of the world is finally catching up: The climate crisis is here, and it's accelerating.

Why it matters: Pacific Islanders, whose nations face an existential threat from climate change, were a major force behind the Paris Agreement. Heading into November's UN climate summit, they are calling for greater urgency in meeting the goals of the accord, and more direct action from world leaders — especially President Biden.

Oct 12, 2021 - Science

Weather and climate disasters have cost the U.S. over $100 billion in 2021

Piles of debris is all that's left of a restaurant after heavy rain from remnants of Hurricane Ida came through in Manville, New Jersey, on Sept. 7. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Weather and climate disasters in 2021 have killed 538 people in the U.S. and cost over $100 billion, according to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Why it matters: The first nine months of 2021 saw the largest number of billion-dollar disasters in a calendar year so far, with 2021 on pace for second behind 2020, per the report.