Yinghan Ding '12 at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Mexico.
Yinghan Ding '12 at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Mexico.

Many people agree that climate change is a serious and immediate threat facing the planet, but far fewer offer the initiative, dedication and hard work that it takes to enact change. Yet this is exactly how Yinghan Ding ’12, recipient of a 2011 Levitt Research Fellowship Grant, plans to spend his summer, alongside Lecturer in Economics Margaret Morgan-Davie. Ding, a math and economics double major, will conduct research on climate finance support in developing countries in his project.


Climate finance refers to the allocation of funds toward “green” initiatives, including the adaptation toward and mitigation of climate change. These funds are especially important with regard to providing innovative technologies that are better for the environment. While developed countries may already have access to both the money and the technology necessary for adaptation and mitigation, developing countries require support from the rest of the world to meet these same needs. Without financial support from developed countries, developing countries will remain at risk from the negative effects of climate change with little means of protection.


Unfortunately, according to estimates from the World Bank, developing countries receive 5 percent of the funding that they require toward reaching a +2° Celsius climate stabilization target. The reason behind this low figure seems to be a lack of trust. Developed countries are unwilling to provide financial support because developing countries do not have a dependable system through which the funds would be distributed. Ding refers to such a system as a “measurable, reportable, and verifiable coordinated allocation mechanism.”


This summer  he will address this problem in his research in hopes of presenting his findings as a policy brief to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Conference of the Parties 17, or UNFCCC COP17 in Durban, South Africa, in December 2011.


Ding’s interest in climate finance stems from his participation in the International Youth Forum on Climate Finance in Shanghai in September, 2010, where he studied climate finance in detail, after which he represented Chinese youth in UNFCCC COP17. Ding believes that an accountable system for resource allocation is the first step toward persuading developed countries to fulfill their promises for funding.


He will begin his research by studying every Conference of the Parties since 1995, with particular focus on the role of climate finance in such negotiations.  After this preliminary analysis, Ding will spend some time analyzing current fund allocation mechanisms from both the public and private sectors. 


Then he will go on to intern with a specialist in asset allocation management from ING Investment Management, where he will learn about current allocation methods for green funds and ultimately put together a “‘climate change portfolio’ that can attract more private investments from both individual investors and institutional investors.” The last step in his project is to test his findings in a case study about climate finance in China, after which he will put together a policy brief that is ready to present to UNFCCC.


Developing countries feel the negative effects of climate change in a more immediate and dangerous way than developed countries because poorer countries have little means of adapting new technologies and other methods of adaptation and mitigation. These countries may be left very exposed to climate change if developed countries do not provide more funding. Developing a better system for fund allocation may be the first step toward relieving the current scarcity of financial support, and Ding’s research promises to provide a much-needed alternative to existing distribution mechanisms.


Yinghan Ding is a graduate of Beijing No. 8 High School (Beijing, China) / Polk County High School (Columbus, NC). Student author Ester Malisova '13 is a graduate of The Heschel School.

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