After the failure in Copenhagen last year for countries who hoped for a successor agreement to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global warming, lower expectations surrounded this year’s version of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cancun. That’s not the same as saying desires for a massive wealth transfer from developed countries to developing countries was diminished — it’s just that they went about it differently.
One effort was to put pressure on nations to create and finance a Global Climate Fund, and the creation part was successful. As the proceedings commenced, the international poverty-and-justice group Oxfam enlisted several corporations to co-sign a letter to President Obama that demanded the U.S. lead the initiative. The Hill reported:
Companies including Starbucks and Nike say U.S. officials should take the lead in creating a global climate change fund, a move that comes as some Senate Republicans are pressing the State Department to halt climate financing for developing nations.
A corporate coalition that also includes Timberland, eBay, and PepsiCo says in a letter to President Obama that the U.S. should drive creation of the fund at the ongoing United Nations climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, calling it “imperative that the United States reassert its credibility and leadership on climate change and establish a fund at this critical juncture.”
The letter read, in part:
It is imperative that the United States reassert its credibility and leadership on climate change and establish a fund at this critical juncture.
Climate change effects are global. So are our markets and supply chains. As outlined in your speech to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit on September 22, 2010, it is in our long-term economic interest to partner with developing countries, which will bolster their efforts to transition from poverty to prosperity through sustainable and equitable economic growth.
The establishment of an equitable, effective and accountable Global Climate Fund is just such a partnership. The U.S. should work alongside developing countries as they reduce their emissions, save their forests, and respond and adapt effectively to the climate impacts already being felt by companies and communities alike….
It is imperative that the United States lead in the creation of a Global Climate Fund, and the time to act is now. As the impacts of climate change continue to grow around the world, we must ensure that a fair, effective, and accountable fund is established so that nations are able to reduce their emissions and adapt in a sustainable way that has the confidence of all countries.
In addition to the above-mentioned corporations, the letter was also “signed” by Gap Inc., Levi Strauss & Co. and Symantec, as well as other lesser-knowns. ABC News reported on the creation of the climate fund:
The Cancun Agreements, adopted to cheers and ovations early Saturday after two tortuous weeks of talks, created a Green Climate Fund to manage and disburse tens of billions of dollars a year, starting in 2020, for green development in poor countries.
The fund also will help developing nations adapt to climate change that already has occurred, through such methods as shifting to drought-resistant crops or building sea walls against rising ocean levels and storm surges.
The accords also create a new mechanism for giving green technology to developing states and set guidelines to compensate countries that are preserving their forests.
Meanwhile another U.S. corporation made pledges to act on climate change in other talks near Cancun:
Three miles (seven kilometers) from the climate talks’ principal negotiating venue, Walmart chairman Rob Walton attended a function that addressed using everything from cattle in Brazil to palm oil in Indonesia as sustainable sourcing for the giant retailer founded by his father.
Walmart says it plans to reduce its carbon footprint over five years to what would be the equivalent of taking 3.8 million cars off the road. Much of that will come by reducing the energy used by suppliers in China, where most of its nonfood products come from.
“People are spending less time on the negotiations and shifting more focus on concrete action,” said Stephen Cochran, vice president of the New York-based nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund, which works with Walmart in China and in the U.S.
With all the corporate firepower behind Cancun, you’d think there wouldn’t be a problem getting money for the Global Climate Fund. But Oxfam reports that those details haven’t been worked out yet:
Oxfam International Executive Director Jeremy Hobbs said: “With lives on the line, we must now build on this progress. Long-term funding must be secured so the Climate Fund can start to deliver, helping vulnerable communities protect themselves for the climate impacts of today and tomorrow.”
There are issues that need to be addressed, including finding the sources of new, long-term money to help fill the Climate Fund. An opportunity has been missed to establish levies on international aviation and shipping, which could have raised substantial new resources for fighting climate change in poor countries. This issue must be revisited with urgency next year. The concerns of women should be put at the heart of the new fund to ensure that those who are among the most affected, receive the funding they need.
Companies like PepsiCo and Walmart, like all good liberals, are prepared to push for global warming “solutions” only so far as it’s painless for them. But if they have to go to investors with plans to do things like contributing to a Global Climate Fund, they’d rather pressure the U.S. government to make American taxpayers pay for it. And that’s apparently what Congress plans to do in the omnibus bill, according to my friend Chris Horner.