We Must Reject Huge Financial Demands at UN Climate Conference

October 26, 2021 Updated: October 27, 2021

Commentary

In the 1996 award-winning film “Jerry McGuire,” pro football player Rod Tidwell had a single demand of his agent: “Show me the money!”

“Show us the money” is precisely what thousands of bureaucrats from developing countries will demand at the 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, from Oct. 31–Nov. 12. If developed countries want to have any chance of achieving from this conference a global commitment to sharply reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions before 2050, then we will have to accommodate the non-OECD nations’ demands for huge wads of cash.

In July of this year a group of 100 developing countries published a plan that they characterized as “easy-to-measure” actions needed by the OECD countries to finance climate mitigation and adaptation measures. The key portion was to provide “reparations” for the role of developed countries in producing past GHG emissions. The document, titled A Five-Point Plan for Solidarity, Fairness and Prosperity, sets out actions needed in five areas:

  1. Cutting emissions consistent with attaining the U.N.’s 1.5 degree Celsius goal, “led by those with the biggest responsibility and capacity”
  2. Adaptation, with financial help to the most vulnerable
  3. Payment of reparations for loss and damage to the developing countries for the developed countries’ “historic failure to cut their emissions adequately”
  4. Increasing finance, including at least $100 billion per year up to 2024 and more thereafter
  5. Implementation of rules for transparency, carbon trading, and common timeframes for accelerating action.

For the first part, cutting emissions, the plan selected five “rich” countries plus the European Union to commit to actions consistent with “fair shares accounting.” Fair shares accounting allocates emissions cuts to countries based on their “historical responsibility and capacity to act,” as judged by the less developed countries. In many cases, application of this approach means that the richer countries should already have passed net zero emissions by 2030 and be absorbing more CO2 from the atmosphere than they emit. Alternatively, this “duty” can be expressed as a combination of a national emissions cut and a financial contribution to the developing world’s mitigation and adaptation efforts. According to the plan:

  • The United States should commit to reducing emissions by 195 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, which “could comprise a 70 percent reduction in domestic emissions and a further 125 percent reduction achieved by providing finances to the developing countries in the order of $80 billion per year.” This makes the April 2021 commitment by President Joe Biden to increase climate aid to $5.7 billion annually by 2024 look rather paltry by comparison.
  • The EU should increase its 2030 mitigation target to at least 65 percent below 1990 levels and increase its annual climate aid to developing countries to $33-$36 billion.
  • The United Kingdom should cut domestic emissions to at least 75 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and provide annual climate aid averaging US$46 billion (33 billion British pounds)
  • Canada should increase its mitigation target to 140 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. This could comprise a reduction of at least 60 percent in domestic emissions along with climate aid of at least US$4 billion annually.
  • Australia should reduce its emissions by at least 65-80 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and provide at least US$2.5 billion annually in climate aid.
  • Japan should increase its mitigation of domestic emissions to at least 45-50 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and increase its climate aid to at least US$9-10 billion annually.

Not surprisingly, despite its status as the world’s largest GHG emitter (double that of the United States) and one of the wealthiest countries, China was not identified as requiring any changes of its emissions and so-called climate aid targets.

Demands for funding continue to grow. India is demanding $1 trillion and Africa has asked for $3 trillion to implement its emissions reduction plan by 2030. The OECD estimates that total climate finance—bilateral public, multilateral public, officially supported export credits, and mobilized private finance—provided by developed countries exceeded US$71 billion in 2017 (developing countries dispute these figures because much of the aid is in the form of loans rather than grants).

No one has yet quantified the amount of “reparations” we must pay, let alone sorting out the attribution of responsibility for damages or the basis for the distribution of the reparation benefits.

Unlike Jerry McGuire, who did indeed secure a lucrative contract for his client, our representatives must turn their backs on these demands. Besides being wholly unsubstantiated—there is no climate crisis—we simply cannot afford to bow to such extortion.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Jay Lehr
Ohio-based Dr. Jay Lehr is senior policy adviser to the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC).
Tom Harris
Tom Harris is executive director of the non-partisan Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition.