As the world prepared to enter the COP27 Climate Conference last month, developing countries expressed anger over the lack of funding provided by the developed world to support reparations for harms they’ve suffered from climate change. Previous pledges had been made but little of the money had come through.
Lauren Sommer, 11-11, 22, NPR, Biden says U.S. will rise to the global challenge of climate change, https://www.npr.org/2022/11/11/1136000297/biden-says-u-s-will-rise-to-the-global-challenge-of-climate-change
Developing countries are frustrated with the U.S. and wealthier nations, who they say owe them reparations for increasingly destructive climate impacts. Top leaders for two countries that emit some of the most greenhouse gas pollution, India and China, aren’t attending the talks. The war in Ukraine is also driving a new push for fossil fuels, as countries try to wean themselves off natural gas from Russia. Biden also spoke as midterm election votes are still being counted in the U.S, determining which party will control Congress and, ultimately, whether and how the U.S. will fulfill its climate promises to the world.
Developing countries push U.S. for more climate aid
The Biden Administration has promised that the U.S. will contribute $11 billion a year by 2024 to help developing countries cope with climate change through projects like renewable energy or new infrastructure to protect cities. Wealthier nations generate the lion’s share of climate pollution and they have promised $100 billion dollars by 2020 to lower-income countries, which have done little to fuel global warming. But the industrialized world has fallen short so far of that goal. If Republicans take control of Congress, it is unclear how the White House will follow through on its pledge. Congressional Republicans have repeatedly blocked such international climate funding. And Republican leaders have also historically opposed payments that developing countries say they’re owed for the damage and destruction from climate change. Setting up a global fund for such payments is a major topic of discussion at the current summit.
The US entered the conference still in opposition to the reparations but softened its stance, committing $100 million to climate reparations (though it is unclear that such reparations will be approved by Congress, especially since the new House will have a Republican majority). Originally, the US also wanted China to pay into the fund, but China doesn’t think it should have to because it is a “developing country.” Regardless, the proposed funding is a small amount.
Negotiators from nearly 200 countries concluded two weeks of talks early Sunday in which their main achievement was agreeing to establish a fund that would help poor, vulnerable countries cope with climate disasters made worse by the pollution spewed by wealthy nations that is dangerously heating the planet.
The decision regarding payments for climate damage marked a breakthrough on one of the most contentious issues at United Nations climate negotiations. For more than three decades, developing nations have pressed for loss and damage money, asking rich, industrialized countries to provide compensation for the costs of destructive storms, heat waves and droughts fueled by global warming.
But the United States and other wealthy countries had long blocked the idea, for fear that they could be held legally liable for the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change.
The agreement hammered out in this Red Sea resort town says nations cannot be held legally liable for payments. The deal calls for a committee with representatives from 24 countries to work over the next year to figure out exactly what form the fund should take, which countries should contribute and where the money should go. Many of the other details are still to be determined.
Reparations can take many forms, including unconditional cash transfers, cash for climate adaptation, loans for financing and financial support (loans or grants) for renewable energy technologies.
Still, major hurdles remain.
The United States and the European Union are pushing for assurances that China will eventually contribute to any fund created — and that China would not be eligible to receive money from it. The United Nations currently classifies China as a developing country, which would make it eligible for climate compensation, even though it is now the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases as well as the second-largest economy. China has fiercely resisted being treated as a developed nation in global climate talks.
There is also no guarantee that wealthy countries will deposit money into the fund. A decade ago, the United States, the European Union and other wealthy emitters pledged to mobilize $100 billion per year in climate finance by 2020 to help poorer countries shift to clean energy and adapt to future climate risks through measures like building sea walls. They are still falling short by tens of billions of dollars annually.
While American diplomats agreed to a fund, money must be appropriated by Congress. Last year, the Biden administration sought $2.5 billion in climate finance but secured just $1 billion, and that was when Democrats controlled both chambers. With Republicans, who largely oppose climate aid, set to take over the House in January, the prospects of Congress approving an entirely new pot of money for loss and damage appear dim.
William Hawkins continues:
William Hawkins, 11-26, 22, William R. Hawkins is a former economics professor who served on the professional staff of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee. He has written widely on international economics and national security issues for both professional and popular publications, Climate Crackup: Why the COP27 Summit Failed, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/climate-crackup-why-cop27-summit-failed-205917
The original offer from the European Union to provide some aid to “the most vulnerable” countries set off a clamor for everybody to be able to make claims. The United States had opposed such a fund precisely for this reason, but it shifted in favor of it as the issue took the conference into overtime on November 19. However, it was not determined who would provide the money, who would administer it, and which countries and kinds of damage would be eligible. Instead, these questions would be topics for COP28. Still, this empty gesture was hailed as the greatest accomplishment of COP27, perhaps the greatest since the Paris Agreement! No wonder the meeting was quickly called a failure for advancing “climate ambitions,” with national ambitions holding sway instead.
*Wealthy nations are responsible for causing climate change and the impacts are felt largely by the developing world; they have a moral obligation to correct the problem
*Climate change reparations are a way for the developed world to compensate for the history of damage caused by colonialism
*Reparations in the form of climate change solutions can help solve climate change
*The developed world cannot afford to pay reparations for climate change
*Reparations should be paid to the developed world but the focus should not be on climate change
*The developed world already provide a lot of foreign aid
*Reparations in the form of financed loans traps the developed world into debt
*Reparations in the form of energy support traps developing countries into the western capitalist energy system
The proposal, which aims to deliver $100 billion to help developing countries transition from fossil fuels, faces criticism