Thursday, 17 December 2009

Clinton Promises Billions in Eco-Aid at Copenhagen

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ClintonU.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is promising delegates to the UN Climate Change Conference billions in foreign aid to developing countries. She's also promising commitment to forming an international authority with regulatory powers over energy and the environment.

Clinton told reporters Thursday at Copenhagen that the United States will offer disadvantaged countries up to $10 billion a year by 2012 in their efforts to combat the reputed catastrophic effects of climate change. She added support for a global fund of $100 billion a year by 2020 on the condition that participating countries meet “standards of transparency” to prove their cooperation with any international agreement met. According to Fox News, the "transparency" comment was directed at China for refusing to "meet the monitoring and verification requirements requested by the U.S. when it comes to promises of carbon reductions."

Clinton said she expects funding to come from public, private, bilateral, multilateral, and alternative financing sources, with use of the money focused on "forestry and adaptation" in the poorest and most vulnerable countries. However, the Wall Street Journal quoted an Obama Administration official admitting, "The private sector is going to be the engine that drives all of this."

A BBC World News anchor commented on the $100 billion goal, saying it may "help to bring the developing and the developed worlds slightly closer together." This is obviously what Clinton has in mind as she also called for Copenhagen delegates to merge "decisive national actions" into a globally regulated "operational accord that internationalizes those actions." In an appeal for successful negotiations to this end, Clinton paraphrased a Chinese proverb, saying "when you are in a common boat, you have to cross the river peacefully together." In her slow monotone, she droned, "We must not only seize this moment, but raise our oars together, and row in the same direction toward our common destination and destiny. And the United States is ready to do our part."

Clinton called the alleged climate-change threat an "undeniable and unforgiving fact." In an apparent effort to counter accusations that the United States is not committed to Copenhagen goals, Clinton said, "We appointed Todd Stern as our first ever special envoy for climate change because we understood that this is one of the most urgent global challenges of our time, and it demands a global solution." She bragged about the Obama Administration's government subsidies for "clean energy" in the Recovery Act of 2009, and its corresponding phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies, Obama's Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, and new regulations imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). She reminded her audience that Obama has already promised emissions cuts of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. But she also noted that pending legislation in Congress would extend those emissions cuts to more than 80 percent by 2050. "So there should be no doubt about the commitment of the United States to reaching a successful agreement here in Copenhagen and meeting this great global challenge together," Clinton declared.

Congressional Republicans are outraged by Clinton's funding proposal. The Wall Street Journal reports Republicans are already planning a "disapproval resolution" to block the financing offer. The article quoted House Republican leader John Boehner saying, "Let me get this straight: We have deficits as far as the eye can see, and the administration wants to give billions in U.S. taxpayer dollars we don't have to other countries. Give me a break."

Yet some in Copenhagen do not think Clinton offered enough. The chief negotiator from Sudan, Lumumba di-Aping, called Clinton's proposal "a good signal, but... still insufficient." He complained, "We need more money."

Photo of Sec. of State Hillary Clinton: AP Images

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