World leaders assembled at Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt on November 6th for the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties on climate change organized by the United Nations (COP27). The conference parties are the nearly 200 countries that agreed to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Developing countries are using the two-week conference to blame the tragic floods, fires, heat waves, droughts, and other natural disasters ravaging their countries on climate change caused by prosperous developed countries’ emissions of greenhouse gases to dangerous levels. The developing countries demand that the prosperous developed countries pay them reparations for what globalists refer to as the “loss and damage” that the developing countries claim they have suffered from a crisis they did not create. This is on top of the billions of dollars already contributed or pledged so far by governments and private benefactors to aid developing countries in their climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres supports the demand for additional “loss and damage” payments to developing countries as a matter of “climate justice.” He has cited the massive floods in Pakistan this year as a tragic example of why an international “loss and damage” funding mechanism is needed right away. “Getting concrete results on loss and damage is a litmus test of the commitment of the governments to the success of COP27,” Secretary General Guterres said at the opening session of the COP27 conference.
“Loss and damage,” as explained by Chatham House, “is often divided into economic loss and damage including to livelihoods and property and non-economic loss and damage including loss of life and losses to biodiversity and cultural heritage.” While the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change explicitly acknowledged the general concept of “loss and damage,” it did not obligate prosperous developed countries to compensate poorer developing countries for their alleged “loss and damage” from climate change. The developing countries are determined to correct this omission at COP27. These poorer countries claim that they are owed reparations for their climate change-related “loss and damage” from the more prosperous countries that have benefited the most economically from using gas-emitting fossil fuels.
Scratch the surface, however, and one sees yet another massive wealth distribution scheme on a global scale, which its proponents justify by pinning the blame for much of the world’s problems, including climate change, on successful capitalist countries.
President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, for example, complained during his remarks at COP27 that “the Venezuelan people must pay the consequences of an imbalance caused by the major Western economies, who have polluted and continue to pollute the planet for the benefit of a few.” The socialist dictator who brutalizes and starves his own people claimed that the “imbalance and the environmental crisis created in nature are comparable to the conditions of inequality and injustice that capitalism has created against humanity.”
Maduro went on to say that setting up a “fund for climate losses and damages” is an urgent priority but must be set up in a way “so that compensation for environmental damage reaches the most affected peoples.” Given Maduro’s personal history of corruption, including his alleged involvement in embezzlement from a state-owned oil company, any such compensation that Venezuela receives will most likely end up enriching Maduro himself and his cronies.
Giving foreign aid is a policy choice. Giving charity is a personal choice. But committing to fund a “loss and damage” fund opens up a Pandora’s Box for governments and businesses in developed countries. It may be viewed as an admission of direct liability for causing climate change and the natural disasters that climate change spawns. Moreover, it is unclear what would qualify as “loss and damage” attributable to climate change that would be eligible for compensation or on what basis it would be decided who should pay what amount.
There is also the question of how to prove direct causation of injury to victims of a natural disaster from the alleged acts of specific parties that exacerbated the climate change crisis. More generally, what time periods during which greenhouse gases were originally emitted are relevant today for assigning financial responsibility? How far back should we go in time to ascribe the natural disasters of today to emissions from centuries or even decades ago?
A significant portion of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by industrialized nations during the 19th century and a substantial portion of the 20th century may have already dissolved into the oceans or otherwise disappeared from the atmosphere. Methane may only persist in the atmosphere for around 12 years.
Moreover, the developing countries complaining about excessive greenhouse gas emissions causing natural disasters in their countries bear some responsibility themselves, at least since the 1980’s. Since that time, developing countries have been accelerating their own burning of fossil fuels, emitting greenhouse gases that are contributing to climate change. Deforestation is also a major problem in developing countries, which has worsened climate change.
According to the Center for Global Development, “Developing countries are responsible for 63 percent of current carbon emissions.” Historically, according to another study, the “contribution rate to the rising air temperature since pre-industrial times” is 56 percent from global greenhouse gas emitted by developed countries and 44 percent from such gas emitted by developing countries.
Developing countries in Asia, Latin America, and Africa have relied increasingly in recent years for their economic growth on fossil fuels, including coal to generate electric power. Fossil fuels have been essential in enabling developing countries to speed up the pace of their industrialization and modernization of agriculture.
But such economic growth has come with a price. These developing countries have made a conscious policy choice to prioritize economic growth over a cleaner, healthier environment, presumably to improve the standard of living for their peoples and thereby foster more political stability. It is an understandable choice, but the tradeoff is that developing countries themselves are contributing to the climate change problem that they seek to blame entirely on already prosperous developed countries.
Even John Kerry, the Biden administration’s climate czar, does not let the developing countries off the hook completely. “So yeah, we burned coal and we did this,” he said. “But guess who else burned coal? Every single one of those other countries. Are they absolved?”
The obvious answer is no.
China is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world today. China’s emissions constitute nearly one-third of human-created greenhouse gases, exceeding the combined total emitted by the United States, Europe, and Japan. China is making things worse by continuing to build more coal plants. “The country’s consumption of coal alone produces more carbon emissions annually than total energy-related U.S. emissions in a year,” the New York Times reported.
Following China and the United States in that order, India ranks as the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Nevertheless, India has joined other developing countries in demanding compensation for “loss and damage” for which it is partially responsible itself as a major emitter of greenhouse gases.
Although China is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases and the second largest economy in the world today, it is still considered a “developing country” by the UN and the World Trade Organization. The Chinese regime is using COP27 to thread the needle between aligning itself with other developing countries as a victim of climate change and projecting an image of itself as a benevolent donor.
“We strongly support the claims from developing countries, especially the most vulnerable countries, for claiming loss and damage compensation because China is also a developing country and we also suffered a lot from extreme weather events,” China’s climate envoy Xie Zhenhua said at the conference. “It is not the obligation of China but we are willing to make our contribution and make our effort.”
Several European countries appear to believe that the West does have an obligation to compensate the developing countries for their “loss and damage” from climate change. Despite their own economic woes, these countries have pledged to contribute money for this purpose.
Under pressure from French President Emmanuel Macron and other globalist world leaders, the Biden administration appears to be moving towards backing some form of a “loss and damage” wealth redistribution scheme. During his address on November 11th to the COP27 attendees, President Biden said that his administration is “supporting the Global Shield, a G7 initiative to better protect vulnerable countries everywhere from climate-related losses and quickly respond to climate-related damages.” (Emphasis added)
During its presidency of the G7 this year, Germany successfully pushed for the G7 to support the development of what has become known as the “Global Shield against Climate Risks.” The website of Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development describes the “Global Shield against Climate Change” as a financing initiative to “bundle activities in the field of climate risk insurance and prevention in close cooperation with the V20 (an association of states that are particularly threatened by climate change)…Under the Shield, solutions to provide protection will be devised that can be implemented swiftly if climate-related damages occur.”
Developing countries have already received trillions of dollars over the years from more prosperous developed countries in foreign assistance, some of which has been squandered and plundered by corrupt, incompetent government leaders. And there are the billions of dollars flowing from governments and private entities in developed countries to developing countries to fund their climate change mitigation and adaptation projects.
But developing countries are demanding more. Backed by “climate justice” activists, globalist public officials, and the mainstream media, developing countries insist that they are entitled to be fully compensated for the ”loss and damage” they suffer from climate change and blame entirely on others. And they demand that well-off countries must pay the entire bill. This is an anti-capitalist wealth redistribution scheme on a grand scale that the U.S. Congress should refuse to fund.