US Denies Climate Aid to Countries Opposing Copenhagen Accord
Bolivia and Ecuador will be denied aid after both opposed the accord
by Suzanne Goldenberg
Published on Friday, April 9, 2010 by The Guardian/UK
The US State Department is denying climate change assistance to countries opposing the Copenhagen accord, it emerged today.
The new policy, first reported by The Washington Post, suggests the Obama administration is ready to play hardball, using aid as well as diplomacy, to bring developing countries into conformity with its efforts to reach an international deal to tackle global warming.
The Post reported today that Bolivia and Ecuador would now be denied aid after both countries opposed the accord. The accord is the short document that emerged from the chaos of the Copenhagen climate change summit and is now supported by 110 of the 192 nations that are members of the UN climate change convention.
"There's funding that was agreed to as part of the Copenhagen accord, and as a general matter, the US is going to use its funds to go to countries that have indicated an interest to be part of the accord," the state department envoy, Todd Stern, told the Washington Post. He said the decision was not "categorical", suggesting that other countries that opposed the accord could still get aid. Bolivia had originally been in line for $3m (£1.95m) in climate assistance and Ecuador for $2.5m under the State Department's original request to Congress for international climate aid, the Post reported.
Environmental organisations in Washington said they had been briefed that the State Department was contemplating such a step. According to their understanding, the Obama administration sees the Copenhagen accord and the promise of $30bn in climate aid for poor countries as combined package. Countries that oppose the deal, therefore, do not qualify for such funds.
However, Alden Meyer, the climate change director for the Union of Concerned Scientists, warned that such a policy risked further inflaming the tensions between the industrialised world and developing countries that have been a major obstacle to getting a deal.
"They are playing a pretty hard line," he said. "But it has the potential to be a counterproductive strategy. To cut off adaptation aid to countries suffering the impacts of climate change that are largely the result of past emissions from the US and other industrial countries risks making them look like the bad guys in a morality play. It is not a strategy that is going to play well in the developing world."
It could also expose America to further criticism that it is not doing enough to shoulder its share of climate aid. America has contributed slightly more than a billion to the fund, below its share.
At the Copenhagen summit last December, Bolivia had cast itself as a champion for the concerns of developing countries that they were being railroaded into an international agreement that would not do enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or protect the African and small island nations that will bear the brunt of climate change.
Bolivia joined Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua in formally opposing the accord. Ecuador did not issue such a statement but it is among the countries that have yet to formally endorse the accord. Some of those hold-outs are acutely vulnerable to climate change – such as the island state of Tuvalu which was outspoken in its opposition to the process of negotiation at Copenhagen. Others are fairly large emitters, such as Argentina.
© 2010 Guardian News and Media Limited
Bolivia, Ecuador denied climate funds
By Juliet Eilperin
April 9, 2010
You can decide to boycott the Copenhagen Accord -- but that comes at a price. For Bolivia, that's $3 million; for Ecuador, it's $2.5 million.
Bolivia emerged as one of the most vociferous critics of the U.S.-brokered climate deal last December, arguing that the political deal aimed at establishing a global trading system for greenhouse gas emissions amounted to an assault by capitalist countries on poor ones. Bolivian president Evo Morales has organized his own climate conference, which will take place later this month.
Ecuador, for its part, submitted a letter on Jan. 31 stating that it "will not join" the agreement, unlike 122 other countries who have either signed on or have pledged to endorse it.
Both nations were in line for funding under the Obama administration's Global Climate Change initiative. The State Department's congressional budget justification for fiscal year 2010 included a request for $3 million for Bolivia and $2.5 million, according to administration officials, but Congress pared down the $373 million for U.S. AID climate change assistance programs to $305.7 million.
After reassessing the budget, State has decided to deny both Bolivia and Ecuador climate assistance. Since all these funding decisions are subject to congressional concurrence, the process is not complete, but it clearly reflects administration policy.
"There's funding that was agreed to as part of the Copenhagen Accord, and as a general matter, the U.S. is going to use its funds to go to countries that have indicated an interest to be part of the Accord," said U.S. special climate envoy Todd Stern in an interview. He added this policy test was "not categorical," so some nations that declined to sign on could still obtain circumstances.
But David Waskow, climate change program director for Oxfam America, challenged Stern's reasoning.
"No one can question that poor people in Bolivia and Ecuador are extremely vulnerable to climate change impacts. We should be making these decisions based on the merits of which communities need our support, not some other factors," Waskow said. "If you want to build confidence and trust among developing countries, this would not be the way to do it, especially in light of the fact that we haven't yet passed a climate change bill."
Also see: Bolivia Launches World Peoples' Climate Conference at UN Gathering in Bonn: