What is landscape of climate finance? A paper published December 2016 by I4CE tells us that “Landscapes of climate finance are comprehensive studies mapping financial flows dedicated to climate change action and the energy transition. Covering both end-investment and supporting financial flows from public and private stakeholders, [they] draw the picture of how the financial value chain links sources, intermediaries, project managers and the end investment.”

The paper by Hadrian Hainaut (I4CE), Andreas Barkman (EEA) and Ian Cochran (I4CE) titled ‘Landscapes of domestic climate finance in Europe: Supporting and improving climate and energy policies for a low-carbon, resilient economy’ features two interesting Sankey diagrams.

This is the ‘Landscape of Climate Finance in France 2014’:

Flows are in billion Euro. Sources and receiving sectors indicated with distinctive black boxes. The authors opted for strictly horizontal/vertical arrow routing. There are no individual quantities at each arrow, so the actual numbers can only be estimated from the arrow proportions.

This is the ‘National Climate Finance in Belgium 2013’:

Flows are in million Euros. Some muddle here at the exit of the top light blue box where the arrows overlap instead of showing the sum of roughly 2000 m€ spending. This coincides with three overemphasized arrow heads for the arrows leading to “Public Investments”, “Policy Incentives” and “Grants”. Arriving arrows at the box “Climate Mitigation” overlap and the Sankey diagram could benefit from clearing up here.

Not sure about the ESDC voting: “France: huit points, La Belgique: dix points” maybe 😉

I had reported on climate finance diagrams back in 2014 when the concept was first presented by Climate Policy Initaitive (CPI) but had since lost sight of them. I am happy to see that the idea is still alive and being taken up in a number of countries in Europe. Also good to see that the diagrams are not yet regulated by a standard and there is some “diversity” among these diagrams.

In this post I had criticized a Sankey diagram depicting FIFA accounts published at BBC News. By drawing operating profits disproportionally they would overemphasize certain arrows.

Here is my version of the diagram, based on the values given in the article by Paul Sargeant (no warranty for the accuracy of these numbers). The orange arrow represents the operating profits, this time at the same scale.

Compare for yourself what impression the two diagrams create in you… and let me know by leaving a comment.

This diagram is by Salim Qurashi and Gerry Fletcher for the May 29, 2015 BBC News article ‘How Fifa makes and spends its money’ by Paul Sargeant.

BBC News via Coffee Spoons blog

The data is based on FIFA financial statements for 2011 through 2014. Flows in US$. The diagram depicts how “the Zurich-based multi-million-[dollar] organisation make its money and what does it spend it on?”.

This is only “sort of a Sankey diagram” as Brendan Barry “the man behind Coffee Spoons” notes. The light blue arrow for “operating profits” represents the balance difference between turquoise incoming and red outgoing flows. The infographic authors chose to set the arrows apart, which make it difficult to verify if arrow widths are to scale.

For the expert eye, some observations:

(1) Why has the sort order for incoming and outgoing flows been reversed? Imagine the red outgoing flow for “World Cup” (2,312m) being located at the right side thus becoming the longest arrow with a stronger emphasis…

(2) Not all flows are to scale: Compare the width of the light blue arrow for “operating profits” (338m) with another flow in the 300m-range such as “Financial Losses” (331m). An unintended flaw?

Back in May 2013 I had reported about the ‘4see model’ developed by ARUP. The model is used to visualize certain data characterizing an economy, such as value streams, jobs or energy.

Browsing for new Sankey diagrams I came across 4see again, this time in an INSEAD Faculty & Research Working Paper titled ‘The 4see Framework: Characterizing an Economy by its Socio-economic and Energy Activities’ by Roberts et.al. (2013).

The model is explained in detail and the report features a number of beautiful diagrams. Here is one of them:

I chose to present this one on financial flows over the others (on transport, energy, employment), since it has some very distinct features.

In the core of the diagram is the balance of payments. The lower part of the diagram (within the frame) has trade flows (i.e. imports to the UK on the left side, exports from the UK on the right side). Interestingly, since this is meant to depict monetary flows, the direction of the arrows is inverted: goods-receiving countries have liabilities, so the flow is from right to-left (upstream). Same holds true for the UK that has to pay for its imports.

The elements in the dotted line rectangles and the linking flows are non-trade items (i.e. the financial system), some of the within the UK, others foreign. Make sure to read the description below figure 8 on page 16 of the report if you want to learn more.

Data is for the year 2010. The key below the diagram shows the default width of a stream representing ‘£100b[2010]/y’, which I read as ‘100 billion British Pounds normalized to base year 2010 per year’. No actual numbers given for each flow, but the different types of monetary flows in relation to each other and their rough dimensions permit to interpret the diagram.

My favourite Sankey diagram in 2015, so far.

Steve from wikibudgets.org posted a comment calling attention to a new free web app they have launched on their website.

This is a straight-forward drawing tool for simple left-to-right distribution diagrams. On the website just pick a node (called “budget” there) and an arrow (called “transfer”), add amount, choose color. The elements can be dragged freely in the browser window. Easy zooming with mouse wheel or double-click on an element. The ‘Save Image’ command from the browser’s context menu lets you store a PNG file.

The motto of wikibudgets.org is to “Visualise public budgets. Rationalise politics. Tackle Corruption. Eliminate waste. Fight bureaucracy.” The Sankey diagrams everyone can produce with this tool aim at visualizing financial transfers in US$.

According to the wikibudgets.org blog this is a first early release of the open source Sankey app for desktop UI. Touch friendly editing for mobile devices is under development.

Added to the list of Sankey software.

The ‘Landscape of Climate Finance’ is a project by the Climate Policy Initiative. CPI “works to improve the most important energy and land use policies around the world, with a particular focus on finance. (This) helps nations grow while addressing increasingly scarce resources and climate risk.”

At http://www.climatefinancelandscape.org/ the have put up graphically appealing and beautifully crafted slideshow with facts on climate finance. How much is spent? Where does the money go to? Who are the receiving countries. Please browse the slideshow here.

Below are two Sankey diagrams from the 2013 report on climate finance.

The first is a rather coarse overview showing the international funding of climate projects by OECD countries and Non-OECD countries. On the right side the recipients breakdown: within their own borders, OECD countries, Non-OECD countries. Details on the countries are available in the report. Flows are in billion US$.

The other Sankey diagram is more complex. Here we can see the sources of climate finance and intermediate agents, the instruments, the recipients and the uses (adaptation and mitigation).

The incoming flows from the left are mostly “not estimated” (NE) and therefore are not to scale with the outgoing arrows. There are many annotations on assumptions and constraints, so please don’t make conclusions directly from the image. In the online version one can hover over the nodes to receive more information.

Congratulations to CPI for this work. They are tackling a complex issue graphically, and make good use of Sankey diagrams for visualization.

The Visio Guy had another cool Sankey diagram on his blog last week. Credits go to Chris Webb of Woodland Trust, who created this using the line thickness option rather than pre-wired shapes.

The diagram has a left-to-right orientation and shows the different sources of money received by the trust. The types of funds (e.g. grants, legacies, direct marketing) are grouped together by colors. Flows have percentile values, rather than absolute ones. I am not sure what the boxes labeled “Sys” are, but the colors change. All flows merge into the box “Finance” which has a subgroup “Sales Ledger”.

The flow bands between most of the nodes have a nice soft curving. This is why some people do refer to Sankey diagrams as spaghetti diagrams.

If you are using Visio, you can download this diagram and look how it has been done. Nice work! I hope to see more of these Sankey diagrams done in Visio….

Nathan at FlowingData – Strength in Numbers presented a Sankey diagram by AP’s Nicolas Rapp and Damiko Morris (originally from this post on Nicolas’ blog). It shows where the $173 billion AIG received from government went to.

I especially like the inverse waterfall arrow endings and how they intersect with the grid of beneficiaries.

Nicolas, who works in Information Graphics for Associated Press, later presented another Sankey diagramm, displaying how the “nearly $12 trillion that was allocated in programs affecting the financial services industry” were used.

The author says “I spent the day researching and realizing this graphic” (@Nick: how much time was the research, how much the drawing?)

He adds “Fun stuff”, a comment which probably refers to the Sankey graphics part rather than to the content depicted… 🙁