Follow the Money
Paris Isn’t Worth a Climate Fund

With only ten days of negotiations left before a final document is set to be drawn up ahead of December’s UN climate conference in Paris, another pesky issue is raising its head: of the $100 billion per year pledged to be raised by developed nations by 2020 to help the offset costs of developing nations, only $10.2 billion has thus far been accumulated, with EU member states pledging around half of that amount. Finance ministers of the G7 are due to meet in Bonn in September to discuss the issue in a “structured form” for the first time. Politico reports:

In the failed climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009, developed nations pledged to come up with $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries fund efforts to cut emissions and strengthen resilience to climate-change risks.

The majority of that money will flow through the Green Climate Fund. So far, however, contributions total a mere $10.2 billion, forcing heads of state from the G7 nations in June to reaffirm their commitment to the goal.

Luxembourg’s General Director of the Ministry of Sustainable Development excused the delay, saying ministers have been “preoccupied with many other urgent issues recently.” Those words will come as cold comfort for the developing world, which is already approaching the negotiating table in Paris with deep reservations. For the world’s poorer countries, concerns are mounting that an international climate treaty might hinder development—particularly galling considering the industrialized world has been chiefly responsible for runaway greenhouse gas emissions over the past century. The annual $100 billion fund was meant to allay those concerns, and was one of the few tangible policies wrung out of the disastrous Copenhagen summit.

So what does it say about the state of climate talks that this pool isn’t even close to being funded? Nothing good. Remember that rich countries—the U.S. chief among them—will have to fork over this $100 billion every year. In today’s political climate it’s hard to imagine Congress willingly signing off on tens of billions of dollars for this even once, let alone annually. This fund was meant to paper over the gap between the first and third worlds, but the cracks in that compromise are already showing. Pity those Paris delegates: their task somehow continues to get harder.

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