New US message on climate change. Make China pay!
China needs to invest in that, US special envoy John Kerry told reporters late last month, “especially if they think they’re going to continue for the next 30 years increasing their emissions.”
The issue, called “loss and damage” in the parlance of global negotiations, calls on the United States and the industrialized nations of Europe to send funding to less developed countries affected by floods, heat, droughts, rising seas and other disasters. worsened by a changing climate. Those countries have contributed little to the crisis, unlike the United States, which has pumped more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than any other country over the past two centuries.
The US is now the second largest climate polluter in the world. China ranks No. 1 with carbon emissions more than double those of the United States
After years of stalling on the issue, successfully restoring US authority on the issue will not be easy. Carbon dioxide has been building up in the atmosphere for centuries, meaning historical emissions accurately reflect the blame for today’s extreme weather events. Agreed data in 2019The US, EU and UK together are responsible for more than half of the excess CO2 in the atmosphere. China’s contribution was 12.7 percent and growing. US and European greenhouse gas emissions are falling, while China has promised only that its emissions will stop rising by the end of the decade.
Vulnerable countries and the Egyptian hosts of the 13-day UN climate conference have made access to climate compensation a central theme of the two-week gathering.
Many of the countries most deeply affected by climate change are concerned that bringing China into the so-called loss and damage debate is a distraction that allows the US and Europe to sow division among developing countries. They fear it will also detract from the discussion that many countries deeply affected by climate change see as a matter of survival.
“I really think it’s a smokescreen,” said Mihai Robertson, a negotiator from Antigua and Barbuda who is on the team representing the bloc of 39 small islands.
Under Kerry, the US and China have been in regular communication on climate policy, but Beijing ended that cooperation in August with a diplomatic reprimand to the House speaker. Nancy Pelosivisit to Taiwan. Now, Kerry’s efforts to drag China into the loss and damage issue are adding to concerns that strained US-China relations are creating difficulties for the upcoming talks.
“The conclusion is this. I have no reason to believe that humanity can solve the climate challenge if the two biggest emitters can’t even talk to each other,” said Li Shuo, Global Policy Advisor at Greenpeace East Asia.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has consistently pointed to the UN doctrine that rich and poor countries bear different burdens for climate change. However, the US insists that China is no longer in the same league as developing countries.
“At the rate we’re going, few countries have a chance of eclipsing our historic mountain” of emissions since the mid-19th century, Carey said. “Yes, we burned coal and did this. But guess who else lit coal? Each of those other countries has been burning coal for 70 years. Do they get released?”
Longtime observers of the climate talks, such as Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist and professor of international affairs at Princeton University, question whether the U.S. tactic is designed to drive a wedge between China and developing countries, which often negotiate as an alliance and accept. controversial position against industrialized countries.
“To break up that alliance a little bit is something that the US would see as a diplomatic coup,” Oppenheimer said.
The EU supports its ally.
“In Sharm, we aim at a meeting of thought and political will. “Financial arrangements involving the entire international community will be needed to meet the very diverse needs of vulnerable countries to respond to loss and damage,” said an EU official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive negotiations.
China cannot be fundamentally opposed to sending money to climate-vulnerable countries. But it will be on China’s terms, that is, it will be held under the heading of “South-South” cooperation. This would prevent Beijing from having to blur the line between developed and developing countries that it uses to distinguish its responsibilities from those of the US and Europe.
“South-South cooperation from China is huge,” said Kaveh Gilanpour, vice-president of international strategies at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, who has advised UK and EU climate negotiators and played a role in the UN Secretary-General’s climate team. .
But getting China to accept the change to join the group of global donors was “a fool’s errand,” Robertson said. His bloc of small island nations wants discussions in Egypt to focus on creating a new global fund to address the damage caused by climate change, and he watched the US soften its rhetoric on climate finance with only “cautiously optimistic”.
The US stance comes as the Biden administration and the EU increasingly accept the moral burden of the damage caused by their fossil fuel depletion. Recent floods in Pakistan and Nigeria and heat waves and droughts that have hit much of the northern hemisphere this summer have helped developing countries make their point.
And the U.S. move breaks long-standing fears among rich nations that climate damage would mount in the face of ever-greater compensation demands, even though the U.S. insists it will not accept any deal that makes it legally responsible for past emissions. However, both the US and Europe have so far refused to accede to the wishes of developing countries to create a separate, dedicated fund for these reparations.
China backed the creation of the special fund at the eleventh hour of last year’s talks in Glasgow, Scotland, although on terms quickly rejected by the US and EU. Senior Biden administration officials said in a recent call that the proposal includes funding only from developed countries and the 2015 Paris climate accord, which shields rich nations from legal liability for damage caused by their past emissions.
“How do you do this in a way that actually produces money? [and] is there a system in place? We are fully in favor of it and we are working towards it,” Kerry said. “We don’t stand in the way. There’s been a big shift in the U.S. over the last few years on this because we’ve seen the gathering storm of what’s happening and the consequences for countries around the world.”
Extreme weather events and disasters related to climate change have more than doubled in developing countries since 1991, the year before the first UN climate summit, resulting in 676,000 deaths, accounting for 79 percent of global deaths from these events. according to the partnership of loss and damage. The report estimates that climate events affect 189 million people in these countries each year.
That the US is going to Sharm El-Sheikh now wants to engage in reparations altogether is seen as a breakthrough among reparations advocates. But vulnerable countries want them to do much more. Negotiations in Egypt will focus specifically on their demands for a new fund.
Senior Biden administration officials said they wanted to first assess whether existing funding agencies could adequately handle the losses and damages. While Kerry said the US was not rejecting the idea of a new fund, officials said they worried that creating a new mechanism would take too much time and negotiations.
Europe and the USA present a united front. The EU is “totally unconvinced” a new fund is needed, the official said. But some European governments are more proactive than the US in presenting alternatives. Germany has developed a “Global Shield” that pools insurance resources. Denmark, Scotland and the Belgian region of Wallonia have made small but symbolic cash pledges in what they say is the first direct pledge of money to repair climate damage.
Countries already dealing with the severe effects of climate change are adamant that the losses and damages require a new fund. They worry that drawing from existing sources will not expand available climate aid when needs are already unmet and growing. And the examples the Biden administration sees as applicable to such funding, such as early warning systems and easier access to disaster relief dollars, are “a deliberate attempt to confuse the climate aid canneries,” said Harjeet Singh, head of global strategy at Environment. group Climate Action Network.
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