To resolve arguments over what funding actually flows from developed to developing nations, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change needs to draw up a definition of what constitutes climate finance.

At the 2009 UN climate summit, developed countries pledged to mobilize US$100 billion annually by 2020 to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change. Has the promise been met? The answer to this question will be available only in “the first quarter of 2022 at the earliest”, according to a report published last month (go.nature.com/2kdeklu) by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a club of wealthy countries.

Letting the OECD decide what counts as climate finance on the world’s behalf risks introducing questionable accounting practices (see R. Weikmans and J. T. Roberts Clim. Dev. 11, 97–111; 2019). The OECD, for example, continues to account loans at face value, which equates a $10‑million loan (which has to be paid back) to a $10‑million grant. It is therefore no surprise that developing countries have found OECD reports unacceptable before (see Nature 573, 328–331; 2019).

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