The United States endorsed compensating developing countries for global warming costs, reversing its long opposition. The Conference of the Parties in Egypt (COP27) ended with a deal to help poor countries pay for the damages they claim are caused by climate change. Diplomats agreed to establish a fund that would help poor countries cope with climate situations that were supposedly made worse by the greenhouse gases emitted from wealthy nations. President Biden will be using tax dollars that Americans pay to provide funds for poor, developing nations — largely from Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and South Pacific. Those funds, however, must be appropriated by Congress. Last year, the Biden administration asked for $2.5 billion in climate finance but received $1 billion.
For over three decades, developing nations have pressed wealthy, industrialized countries to provide compensation for the costs of storms, heat waves and droughts supposedly linked to rising temperatures. According to the World Economic Forum, dozens of “vulnerable countries” estimated that “their combined climate-linked losses over the last two decades totaled $525 billion, or 20% of their collective GDP.”
The United States and other countries had blocked the idea because they could face unlimited liability from the greenhouse gases they emit. The loss and damage agreement, however, makes clear that payments are not to be seen as an admission of liability. The deal calls for a committee with representatives from 24 countries to determine what form the fund should take, which countries and financial institutions should contribute, and where the money should go. Those details are to be worked out over the next year. It will be instructive to watch whether these discussions adhere to the spirit of the agreement’s curious provisions which separate payments from liability.
The United States and the European Union secured language in the deal that could expand the donor base to include major emerging economies like China and Saudi Arabia. The United Nations currently classifies China as a developing country, which has traditionally been exempted from obligations to provide climate aid, even though it is now the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and the world’s second-largest economy. China emits as much carbon dioxide as the United States, EU-27, Japan and India combined.
China has resisted being treated as a developed nation in global climate talks, relying on a 1992 convention that absolves a list of countries defined as developing from any obligation to pay into climate funds. The European Union and the United States succeeded in blurring that line in the 2015 Paris Agreement. A number of European nations have voluntarily pledged more than $300 million to address loss and damage so far, with most of that money going toward a new insurance program to help countries recover from issues like flooding.
Other Climate Issues
There was no agreement on cutting emissions. India and some other countries wanted language that would have called for a “phase-down” of all fossil fuels, not just coal, but also oil and natural gas. The agreement from COP 26 in Glasgow called for a “phase-down” of just coal. The new effort to also phase down oil and natural gas was blocked by major oil producers such as Canada and Saudi Arabia, and by China—a major oil consumer. Instead of phasing out oil and natural gas, the agreement calls for “rationalizing” inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.
This is particularly ironic given that European nations are committing to enormous sums in energy subsidies this winter. Governments across Europe have announced €674 billion ($696 billion) in handouts and subsidies to alleviate the burden of skyrocketing energy prices between September 2021 and October 2022, according to Bruegel, the Brussels-based think tank. The money includes €264 billion ($273 billion) in Germany alone and the equivalent of €97 billion ($100 billion) in the United Kingdom, which is on top of what households and businesses are paying in higher energy bills after the subsidies.
More than 150 countries signed on to a pledge that was launched last year at COP26 in Glasgow to cut methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030. China’s special climate envoy Xie Zhenhua outlined his country’s policy for reducing methane emissions at COP27, but did not join the international agreement. Meanwhile, President Biden championed a “relentless” attack on methane emissions in the United States, targeting domestic oil and gas producers.
The Hypocrisy at the Conference
According to Uganda’s President: Europe’s “reprehensible double standard” on energy is something that Africa has “come to expect.” Europe’s re-investment in fossil energy makes a mockery of Western commitments to climate targets and their promises to help speed African development in renewable energy. Africans want to use their own fossil fuel resources to develop their countries, bring electricity to households, provide jobs and move people out of poverty. Europe, however, has agreed with the United States and Canada not to finance fossil fuel projects in Africa. Yet, Europe wants to buy African oil and natural gas for its own use, has brought coal plants back online and is opening new coal mines while destroying a wind farm.
That’s not the only hypocrisy! The greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the private jets used to bring delegates from almost 200 nations are enormous. According to Business Insider India, the COP27 attendees arrived in Egypt on 400 private jets. The most common private plane flown into Egypt is the Gulfstream G650, “which uses about 1,893 liters of fuel per hour. Over five hours of flight, the jet would consume over 9,000 liters of aviation fuel.” According to ‘Transport and Environment,’ a private jet can emit two tons of carbon dioxide in an hour and emits five to 14 times more per passenger than a commercial plane.
But, the hypocrisy goes even further at COP27. World leaders and officials attending COP27 can spend up to $100 per entree to eat red meat, seafood and other gourmet menu items. While the UN has discouraged red meat consumption due to the carbon emissions that beef farming creates, delegates are able to enjoy $100 Angus beef medallion which is served with mushroom sauce and sautéed potatoes. Although many Egyptian dishes are vegan because meat has traditionally been expensive there, not one main dish on the VIP menu is vegan, and a $20 pesto and cheese ravioli dish represents the sole vegetarian entree available.
The Biden Administration endorses – for the first time — providing a fund for wealthy countries to pay for poor countries’ climate issues. That means U.S. taxpayer dollars will be sent to a U.N.-sponsored slush fund that will provide “reparations” to poor countries who will line up for a wealth transfer. The details of the fund will be worked out over the next year by a committee. It is unclear, however, how paying reparations will reduce climate change, especially when so many of the poorer nations suffer from bad and corrupt governments. History has shown that many times aid is funneled off to the pockets of leaders, rather than going to the needs of their poor citizens.
Technological advancement has historically resulted in improving living conditions and quality of life and is likely the avenue for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Agreeing to this slush fund has just opened the door to make America poorer, increasing taxes on the American public, and raising our debt.