Broken promises

Developed countries clearly feel guilty that climate change, for which they have largely been responsible, affects most adversely the undeveloped poorer nations. They assuage their conscious by promising money to poorer nations. In 2001 twenty of the world’s richest countries promised $410 million each year until 2008 to help the least developed countries. Unfortunately these promises, grandly trumpeted at the time, have been broken.

The promise was “we reaffirm our strong political commitment to climate change funding for developing countries. We are prepared to contribute US$ 410 million, which is 450 million Euro, per year by 2005 with this level to be reviewed in 2008.”

The promise was supposed to be reinforced by an audit procedure:

Parties shall provide any information on any financial resources related to the implementation of the Convention provided through bilateral, regional and other multilateral channels.”

Where is the money? $410 each year shared between twenty rich nations is not frankly a huge amount of money, but every dollar spent properly is spent in a good cause. The rich nations now seem to be unable to show where they have spent the money. The Declaration provides for defined ways of spending the money but very little of what should have been spent has been identified.

I suppose that declarations of this kind are typical of the way in which many governments work. Many governments announce spending plans in different guises so that most people think that a new announcement means new money spent but actually more often than not it is an announcement that rehashes previous announcements.

In this case the publicity at the time of the Bonn Declaration was that twenty rich nations were committed to spend huge amounts of money every year to help poor nations tackle climate change. As the rich nations have not yet spent any significant sums in tackling climate change by reducing emissions in their own back yard it would be naive to expect them to spend significant sums abroad, wouldn’t it?

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