By Dr. Jay Lehr and Tom Harris
In the 1996 award-winning film Jerry McGuire, pro football player Rod Tidwell had a single demand of his agent: “Show me the money!”
“SHOW US THE MONEY” is precisely what thousands of bureaucrats from developing countries will demand of us at the 26thConference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held in Glasgow, Scotland from October 31 – November 12. If developed countries want to have any chance of achieving from this conference a global commitment to sharply reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions before 2050, then we will have to accommodate the non-OECD nations’ demands for huge wads of cash.
In July of this year a group of 100 developing countries published a plan that they characterized as “easy-to-measure” actions needed by the OECD countries to finance climate mitigation and adaptation measures. The key portion was to provide “reparations” for the role of developed countries in producing past GHG emissions. The document, entitled A Five-Point plan for Solidarity, Fairness and Prosperity, sets out actions needed in five areas:
- Cutting emissions consistent with attaining the UN’s 1.5 degree Celsius goal, “led by those with the biggest responsibility and capacity”
- Adaptation, with financial help to the most vulnerable
- Payment of reparations for loss and damage to the developing countries for the developed countries’ “historic failure to cut their emissions adequately”
- Increasing finance, including at least $100 billion per year up to 2024 and more thereafter
- Implementation of rules for transparency, carbon trading and common timeframes for accelerating action.
For the first part, cutting emissions, the plan selected five “rich” countries plus the European Union to commit to actions consistent with “fair shares accounting.” Fair shares accounting, according to the plan, allocates emissions cuts to countries based on their “historical responsibility and capacity to act,” as judged by the less developed countries. In many cases, application of this approach means that the richer countries should already have passed net zero emissions by 2030 and be absorbing more CO2 from the atmosphere than they emit. Alternatively, this “duty” can be expressed as a combination of a national emission cut and a financial contribution to the developing world’s mitigation and adaptation efforts. According to the plan:
- The United States should commit to reduce emissions by 195% below 2005 levels by 2030. “This could comprise a 70% reduction in domestic emissions and a further 125% reduction achieved by providing finances to the developing countries in the order of $80 billion per year.” This makes the April 2021 commitment by U.S. President Biden to increase climate aid to $5.7 billion annually by 2024 look rather paltry by comparison.
- The EU should increase its 2030 mitigation target to at least 65% below 1990 levels and increase its annual climate aid to developing countries to $33-$36 billion.
- The United Kingdom should cut domestic emissions to at least 75% below 1990 levels by 2030, and provide annual climate aid averaging $46 billion (33 billion British pounds)
- Canada should increase its mitigation target to 140% below 2005 levels by 2030. This could comprise a reduction of at least 60% in domestic emissions along with climate aid of at least U.S. $4 billion annually.
- Australia should reduce its emissions by at least 65-80% below 2005 levels by 2030 and provide at least U.S. $2.5 billion annually in climate aid.
- Japan should increase its mitigation of domestic emissions to at least 45-50 % below 1990 levels by 2030 and increase its climate aid to at least $U.S. $9-10 billion annually.
Not surprisingly, despite its status as the world’s largest GHG emitter (double that of the U.S.) and one of the wealthiest countries, China was not identified as requiring any changes of its emissions and so-called climate aid targets.
Demands for funding continue to grow. India is demanding $1 trillion and Africa has asked for $3 trillion to implement its emission reduction plans by 2030. The OECD estimates that total climate finance (bilateral public, multilateral public, officially supported export credits and mobilized private finance) provided by developed countries exceeded $71 billion in 2017 (developing countries dispute these figures because much of the aid is in the form of loans rather than grants).
No one has yet quantified the amount of “reparations” we must pay, let alone sorting out the attribution of responsibility for damages or the basis for the distribution of the reparation benefits.
Unlike McGuire (Tom Cruise), who did indeed secure a lucrative contract for Tidwall (Cuba Gooding Jr.), our representatives must turn their backs on these demands. Besides being wholly unsubstantiated—there is no climate crisis—we simply cannot afford to bow to such extortion
Ohio-based Dr. Jay Lehr is Senior Policy Advisor to the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC). Tom Harris is Executive Director of ICSC.