US Denies Climate Aid to Countries Opposing Copenhagen Accord

Published on
by
The Guardian/UK

US Denies Climate Aid to Countries Opposing Copenhagen Accord

Bolivia and Ecuador will be denied aid after both opposed the accord

by
Suzanne Goldenberg

The leader of the United States delegates Todd Stern at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009. (Photograph: Claus Bjorn Larsen/AP)

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.

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