The omnibus is a moral and diplomatic climatic failure
On a recent trip to Kenya, I heard little about coronavirus, inflation or Ukraine once outside the hustle and bustle of Nairobi. In the countryside, people are focused on surviving one of the worst droughts in living memory. Some areas have seen virtually no rain in two years, and more than half the crops and most livestock have perished. The drought wiped out the wealth and savings of hundreds of thousands of people, jeopardizing the educational opportunities of an entire generation. Up to four million people could need food aid in the coming months.
Kenya is not the only country feeling the heat. Most developing countries are grappling with the impacts of climate change. President BidenJoe BidenBiden calls on Herschel Walker and Mehmet Oz to leave the board or be ousted. recognized this urgency, and last April, pledged $5.7 billion a year in international climate aid. But in the face of climate catastrophe, Congress embraced climate austerity. The omnibus budget adopted on March 11 allocates only $1 billion to humanity’s greatest challenge – little more than Trump-era budgets. The word “climate” only appears twice in the 2,741-page bill. By enacting this budget, the United States has turned its back on the developing world and seriously undermined its international reputation.
By a cruel twist of fate, the countries least responsible for the climate crisis are also the most vulnerable to its effects. Rural households in Bangladesh, for example, are already spending $2 billion each year on climate-related damage. A dozen island nations are in danger of disappearing entirely. To right this wrong – and prevent mass migration, future resource conflicts, and supply chain disruptions – countries like the United States must immediately increase foreign climate investment.
Here is the good news: there is already a multilateral institution in place to deploy climate finance exclusively for countries in the South: the Green Climate Fund (GCF), created by the United Nations in 2010. The GCF helps developing countries reduce greenhouse gases, protect nature, and adapt to rampant climatic hazards. The GCF has funded 190 projects worldwide, avoided two billion tonnes of carbon emissions and reduced the climate vulnerability of 612 million people.
Surprisingly, the United States – one of GFC’s founders – has yet to take over as a funder. Of the $17 billion that has flowed into the fund, only 6% comes from the United States, the world’s largest emitter. The latest US budget does not allocate a penny more.
This isn’t just a moral failure – it could also upend global climate cooperation.
The Paris Agreement, signed in 2015, was a remarkable moment in diplomatic history. After years of stalemate, 195 countries have managed to strike a big deal. Every nation has agreed to drastically reduce its emissions, even the world’s most fragile economies. In return, rich countries pledged to help fund adaptation and mitigation efforts abroad. This promise has not been kept – and trust now seems to be scarce. Failure to pay even a fraction of our fair share to the Green Climate Fund will only escalate tensions between North and South, while alienating some of America’s closest allies at the moment. where we need it most. When the US shirks its climate obligations, the UK, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Japan have to pay the bill. If this budget is all we can muster, U.S. delegates will be rightly ridiculed at the upcoming UN climate conference in November and multilateralism will take a beating.
Although the 2022 budget has already been enacted, there is still a silver lining for the Green Climate Fund. The Biden administration could follow president obamaBarack Hussein ObamaHealth Care – Moderna Seeks Children’s Vaccine Authorization Omnibus Is a Moral and Diplomatic Climate FailureFor example, take the initiative and deploy international climate assistance through the myriad of flexible accounts that exist to support our country’s strategic interests abroad. While those one-time contributions are likely well below what is needed, such a move would give the administration a signal of its intentions — and at least pay for its place at the table.
Legislating with narrow majorities is difficult and no agreement will ever be perfect. But there are some things that should always remain a priority – a habitable planet is surely at the top of the list. As the climate catastrophe gathers pace, we have little room for error and no time for political paralysis. History will not be kind to those who recognized this threat, but will delay action for reasons of political convenience.
Mr. Sanjayan is CEO of Conservation International.