On climate reparations, Biden caves and America pays


COP27 Climate Summit
U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry attends a session on the Global Methane Pledge at the COP27 U.N. Climate Summit, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty) Nariman El-Mofty/AP

On climate reparations, Biden caves and America pays

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John Kerry, the U.S. special envoy for climate change, had the correct position heading into the 2022 U.N. Climate Change Conference of the Parties.

“It’s a well-known fact that the United States and many other countries will not establish some sort of legal structure that is tied to compensation or liability,” Kerry said before the conference. “That’s just not happening.”


But then it did.

Desperate to avoid headlines announcing yet another Biden administration failure, Kerry agreed to the creation of a fund, administered by U.N. bureaucrats, that would transfer wealth from industrialized countries like the United States to developing countries that claim they have suffered damage from climate change.

Kerry was right the first time. The Biden administration’s cave will do nothing to stop climate change, but it will needlessly expose U.S. taxpayers to frivolous legal liabilities.

There are many problems with starting a new climate change fund that will allegedly benefit developing countries, but the most obvious is that we already have one. The United Nations previously established the Green Climate Fund during the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference. Theoretically, wealthy nations are supposed to be committing $100 billion a year to this organization. Instead, only $10 billion has been pledged so far. The Obama administration pledged $3 billion but only gave $1 billion to the fund before it left office. The Biden administration has only secured another $1 billion so far. Former President Donald Trump gave the fund nothing.

So why are international climate bureaucrats creating a new climate fund when the first one has fallen so woefully short of its goals?

At least the Green Climate Fund had a worthwhile goal — to help developing countries adopt more efficient energy technologies and adapt to climate change. It would be progress to spend money on projects that actually accomplish these goals.

This cannot be said of a fund based on giving developing nations more money for damage they claim was caused by climate change, which is a terrible idea. It creates perverse incentives that will increase economic damage and get more people killed.

Consider Pakistan, one of the biggest proponents of the new climate reparations fund, which has tried to claim recent flooding is a result of climate change. “This all happened despite our very low carbon footprint,” Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif told conference attendees, “and yet we became a victim of something with which we had nothing to do.”

Nothing to do? Really?

Pakistan’s government has encouraged a policy of extreme deforestation to the point that only 5% of the nation’s land is now covered by forest. The government has also allowed farmers to cultivate much-needed flood plains that would have mitigated intense rains. It is these non-climate-related policy decisions that made Pakistan so vulnerable to heavy rainstorms. Pakistani policy had everything to do with its own country getting flooded, yet Americans could be forced to pay for the damage. Even worse, a climate fund designed to compensate for climate damages will only incentivize countries not to better adapt themselves to extreme weather events.

Climates change; it’s what they do. The best thing humanity can do to continue coping with climate change is to make sure everyone the world over is as wealthy as possible so that they can best adapt. Paying reparations to countries that do nothing to adapt is a step in the wrong direction.


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