Climate finance is fundamental to a fair and effective global climate agreement. Too few countries have delivered on their obligations. As a result the world’s poorest people have not benefitted from the necessary investment, and climate finance has been a major obstacle to achieving a global climate change agreement. A new approach that recognises the failings of the current regime and is better informed by needs and opportunities at the national level can break the current standoff and trigger a collaborative effort that delivers effective investment at scale in both mitigation and adaptation. This, along with ambitious emissions reduction pledges by developed countries, is key to success in the 2015 Paris climate negotiations.