As the private sector takes on a stronger role in climate financing, companies are likely to adopt a more pragmatic approach and invest only in environments already ripe for revenue, rather than trying to improve governance.
"We know that investors use our corruption index as a tool to assess the viability of a project in a certain country,” said Boehmer. "It's a vicious circle: Corruption prevents a country from developing, and as a result the place becomes less attractive for the green businesses that could ease its poverty."
Of the nearly $22 billion Congo asked for to realise its Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement, only $182 million has been allocated. With a GDP of less than $500 per capita, the country can't develop without substantial help.
"Mismanagement of public funds is a reality in [Congo]," said Alphonse Bangila, a consultant who oversees a government project for the production of biofuel from soybean and palm nuts to power rural areas.
"The government is not doing enough to eradicate the problem, but it also lags behind in the planning and implementation of management structures for climate response," he told IRIN in an email.
Mugangu, the Congolese climate pledge negotiator, said his country badly needs the capacity-building assistance provided by public funds like the GCF.
"Developing countries lack the technical capacity to write up and implement mitigation projects with complicated calculations of carbon reduction benefits,” he said.
Barbara Buchner, who heads the climate finance programme at the Climate Policy Initiative research institute, explained that businesses shy away from green investments when they don't have a clear picture of what technologies are available. For example, solar and wind are now much more efficient than just a few years ago and offer better return on investment, but investors still tend to perceive them as too risky or costly.
Public funding, she said, is the backbone of the climate finance architecture, as it can be used to remove some of these barriers.
“We are trying to create solutions to use public funding to leverage private investments at scale, so the GCF becomes an opportunity to unlock a much broader investment portfolio from other funders,” said Buchner.
But with public funds now expected to fall sharply, climate mitigation in developing nations could slip far down the global economic agenda.
The G20s change of heart on climate finance "is a major turning point in international cooperation”, said Bangila. "From now on, each country will have to address the climate issue according to its own economic interests (as opposed to a global strategy).”
This attitude could lead countries to take another page from Trump’s playbook, he said: “Maybe we will come to believe that climate change is a hoax after all.”
(TOP PHOTO: Happier days - the end of the COP21 summit in Paris, December 2015. CREDIT: F. de La Mure/MAEDI)
*(This story has been corrected to note that Congo's former secretary-general of the ministry of environment was in prison but is now free)