Thursday, December 17, 2009

Skimmed milk masquerades as cream

The climate talks at Copenhagen were looking like they might end in stalemate when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew in and revived them... with a big pledge. One hundred billion dollars a year! At least that is what you might think by reading the headlines, see a few typical examples below....

If you read many to most of the articles you probably still would believe this, for example "The US is putting a 100 billion on climate change initiatives for poor nations..." or "U.S. backing for a $100 billion climate fund to help poor nations revived hopes for a deal to combat global warming on Thursday as world leaders met on the eve of a U.N. deadline for breaking deadlock," and so on. Some other articles did vaguely mention the year 2020... and that the U.S. would "participate" in the fund...

So, what did Clinton promise? Her exact words were, "... we also recognize that an agreement must provide generous financial and technological support for developing countries, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable, to help them reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. That’s why we joined an effort to mobilize fast-start funding that will ramp up to $10 billion in 2012 to support the adaptation and mitigation efforts of countries in need. And today I’d like to announce that, in the context of a strong accord in which all major economies stand behind meaningful mitigation actions and provide full transparency as to their implementation, the United States is prepared to work with other countries toward a goal of jointly mobilizing $100 billion a year by 2020 to address the climate change needs of developing countries. We expect this funding will come from a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance. This will include a significant focus on forestry and adaptation, particularly, again I repeat, for the poorest and most vulnerable among us..."

So, the U.S. will be part of an effort to get to $10 billion by 2012... not $10 billion from the U.S. now, but part of an effort "to ramp up to $10 billion." And subsequently, will "work with other countries towards a goal" of $100 billion a year. Listening to this, can anyone really say how much the U.S. is committing to pay? And when? Hmm, some money, most of it after the current administration is out of office (even if re-elected to a second term!). This mealy mouthed "pledge" is a perfect example of this - The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being a Head of State at the Copenhagen Climate Talks by @brianfit Hopefully no country bets its future on this fund... chances are good that it will melt away faster than the glaciers!

Clinton’s $100-billion Copenhagen bombshell leaves China in role of spoiler
U.S. backs $100 bln climate fund, world leaders meet
US Revives Copenhagen Talks With $100 Billion Pledge to Developing Nations
US Commits 100 Billi to Poor Nations for Climate Change

Remarks at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

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