Senate Appropriations Committee Pushes Through Action on Green Climate Fund
The Green Climate Fund, an “operating entity of the financial mechanism” of the United Nation’s Framework for Climate Change Convention, is a critical component of the successful outcome of the Paris climate negotiations in December. Without it, an agreement is “impossible,” says French President Francois Hollande.

The fund, headquartered in South Korea, is essentially a financial intermediary between developed and developing nations. Developing nations — many of which stand to face harsher climate-related incidents — are not keen on signing a climate deal to cut emissions.

Their rationale is that economic development, which is badly needed, is difficult in the absence of hydrocarbons and abundant, cheap energy. A global deal on cutting emissions would hurt the poor countries more, which are the same countries that have historically contributed substantially less greenhouse gas emissions than the developed nations.

Instead, they are demanding reparations and assistance from developed countries in exchange for signing onto any binding climate deal. The money will go toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the developing countries and helping them to build resilience to future climate shocks.

Some developed countries including the United States have, until recently, been balking at the idea of giving developing countries money for climate-related disasters and paying for them to reduce emissions. This stance has thwarted previous climate talks and threatens the COP21 negotiations.

However, the Senate committee on State and Foreign Operations has pushed through action on funding for the Green Climate Fund. Although the legalese wording in the subcommittee document effectively blocked funding by requiring that a subsequent act of Congress was needed to approve funding, the wording was removed during the Full Committee Markup.

The bill includes an unidentified amount of “limited funding” for the Green Climate Fund. The president’s $500 million request represents one-hundredth of 1 percent of the federal budget. The United States is now one of more than 30 countries that have dedicated money to the Green Climate Fund.

John Wachter

Sources: Green Climate Fund, The Hill 1, The Hill 2, RFI, Sierra Club, United States Senate 1, United States Senate 2, United States Senate 3
Photo: Flickr

The breakthrough collaborative announcement by the United States and China on curbing greenhouse gases has sparked a global movement on climate change. For many years, international climate talks have been ignored by those who caused the problem of climate change. The United States and China remain the two largest emitters of carbon dioxide, and have now pledged to reduce emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030. With India on board with the global change, the movement would spark continual momentum.

A critical question is whether India will join the United States and China’s side in climate talks. India has become the third world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. The world needs India to join many other countries to help alleviate climate change; without India, efforts to tackle global climate change will be difficult. India must consider its investment in developing clean and renewable energies, and reconsider its investment on coal.

India and China share a common domestic problem; fossil fuels that cause climate change also create major air pollution. Over the years, air pollution has risen to harmful levels. The World Health Organization monitors for air pollution, and has stated that China and India’s cities failed the organization’s test for satisfactory levels of airborne particulate. This microscopic matter is believed to be one of the most deadly air pollutants for the human health. More than half of these cities also fail to uphold to their own specific standards.

The pollution shortens lives and is costly to China and India’s economic growth. As a result, many Chinese citizens have called for change. China’s leaders have responded by taking big actions on the global climate change, and should motivate India to do the same before the problem poses a bigger threat.

India could possibly follow China. India’s Prime Minster, Narendra Modi, has publicly acknowledged the recognition of the country’s severe pollution problem. Modi made a public announcement on his objectives to make air quality data accessible to the public. India has a reputation for investing huge amounts on coal. In the last five years, India has increased its coal power capacity by 73 percent. Moreover, India plants to double domestic coal production to one billion tons a year, by 2019, to fuel new plants and boost imports.

India’s air is among the world’s dirtiest, with largely unregulated and unmonitored coal plants. Unfortunately India’s decisions to invest big on coal plants kills up to 115,000 Indians a year, and costs the Indian people about $4.6 billion annually.

Many climate change advocates in India have expressed doubts following India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s, choice to not attend the United Nations Climate Summit to speak about the change.

The Green Climate Fund, which operates to redistribute money from the developed world to the developing world in order to assist developing nations in adapting to climate changes, have risen close to $10 billion in funds. Pledges to the fund come from the government of 22 countries; four developing countries were among the contributors.

If India makes amends to follow other nations in pledging towards helping the change, this will make its mark in history as one of the largest movements in confronting climate change.

Sandy Phan

Sources: WHO, UNFCCC, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
Photo: LA Times