U.S. Pledges $10 Billion per Year In Climate Change Aid

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced last week that the U.S. will participate in the international pledge of $100 billion a year in aid for developing countries to mitigate climate change, through providing  $10 billion a year by 2012. Clinton spoke of the need for developed countries to “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.”

The details Clinton gave about where the funding will come from concerns some people. Clinton said the funding “will come from a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance” with a “significant focus on forestry and adaptation.” Journalist Bradford Plumer commented in an article that the $100 billion in aid will come from “private sources, like carbon-offset projects purchased under domestic cap-and-trade programs.”David Waskow, spokesperson for Oxfam International said, believes the funding needs to come from public sources.  “It is absolutely crucial that this funding come from public sources in developed countries and be additional to current development assistance commitments,” Waskow said. He added,  “Private financing is no substitute for public investment in the resilience of the poorest and most vulnerable communities.”

Jennifer Morgan, director of the Climate and Energy Program with the U.S.-based World Resources Institute, said “further clarification” is needed concerned the “specifics of the announcements, particularly whether this money will be additional to current funding, but this is a solid first step. Financing was one of the missing pieces in Copenhagen.”

Jo Leinen, chairperson of the European Parliament’s delegation to COP15 pointed out that the European Union’s (EU) proposal was to invest 100 billion euros a year into a fund for developing countries, which Science News puts at a value “44 percent higher than the dollar value that Clinton mentioned.”

During the first week of COP15, the EU pledged $10.6 billion (7.2 billion euros) a year in aid over the next three years to help developing countries mitigate climate change. EU leaders plan to make the money available through a “fast start” fund for developing nations.

Both the U.S. pledge and EU pledge fall short of what developing countries asked for in aid. The president of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka, said he wanted developed countries to give $40 billion a year to  “to enable low-income countries to adapt.”

“If this is good money and nobody is going to be alive to get a dime of it, how far does this take us?” asked Hama Arba Diallo from Burkina Faso.

“We want to exist as a nation,” said Tuvalu Prime Minister Apisai Ielemia. “That is why we are making all the noise. We don’t want to disappear from this Earth.”

Tuvalu, a small island nation in the South Pacific, has already faced floods due to rising sea levels. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), West Africa had so much rainfall in September that 100,000 were affected. Burkina Faso, in particular, had over 10 inches (263) millimeters of rain in 12 hours, the most it has received in 90 years.

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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