Blow­ing hot air: U.S. re­neges on its fund­ing pledge to help save cli­mate

The Washington Times Daily - - Front Page - BY TIM DE­VANEY

ef­forts to fight cli­mate change, a re­port from de­vel­op­ment ad­vo­cacy group Oxfam says there has been a lot of con­fu­sion and “smoke and mir­rors” about who promised what.

“What is needed is cer­tainty in un­cer­tain times,” Oxfam spokes­woman Kelly Dent said. “The U.S. needs to pro­vide cer­tainty to de­vel­op­ing coun­tries that it is ac­tu­ally se­ri­ous about the 2020 com­mit­ment and it needs to in­crease its com­mit­ments to reach the 2020 goal.”

In 2009, in­dus­tri­al­ized coun­tries, such as the U.S., United King­dom, Ger­many and France agreed to pro­vide $100 bil­lion a year by 2020 to help de­vel­op­ing coun­tries fight cli­mate change, dur­ing a United Na­tions meet­ing in Copen­hagen. But four years later, the coun­tries that promised that money have been

De­spite rosy plat­i­tudes from Pres­i­dent Obama on Vet­er­ans Day, more than 700,000 for­mer ser­vice­men and women re­main wait­ing for med­i­cal ben­e­fits owed to them be­cause of a back­logged sys­tem that takes an av­er­age of 300 days to nav­i­gate.

Even when VA of­fices do process claims, they make many mis­takes and er­ro­neous de­ci­sions that frus­trate vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies, ac­cord­ing to in­ter­nal re­ports re­viewed by The Wash­ing­ton Times.

The lat­est sta­tis­tics from the Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Depart­ment, re­viewed by The Times, leave the pres­i­dent strug­gling to ful­fill his prom­ise — Mr. Obama vowed dur­ing his 2008 cam­paign to re­duce vir­tu­ally all VA claim de­ci­sions to an av­er­age of 125 days by the end of 2015.

In­stead, the back­log has grown sub­stan­tially dur­ing the pres­i­dent’s first five years in of­fice. Al­though some gains were made in the past year to re­duce the back­log from the high-wa­ter mark it reached in 2012, the VA still falls far short of meet­ing Mr. Obama’s goal. That ex­as­per­ates key law­mak­ers. “Congress has pro­vided the VA with ev­ery­thing it has asked for to re­duce the back­log, so why is the depart­ment not de­liv­er­ing the re­sults its lead­ers promised?” said House Vet­er­ans Af­fairs’ Com­mit­tee Chair­man Jeff Miller, Florida Repub­li­can.

As of Septem­ber, the VA said, it has 736,666 claims await­ing pro­cess­ing. Of those, 59 per­cent — roughly 435,000 claims — have been wait­ing longer

slow to de­liver and crit­ics fear they have fallen off tar­get.

This year, de­vel­oped coun­tries have given their poor neigh­bors about $16.3 bil­lion to­ward the cli­mate change bat­tle, but the Oxfam re­port finds many of th­ese coun­tries have fudged the num­bers, bring­ing the level of sup­port down to $7.6 bil­lion.

Many coun­tries have taken money from in­ter­na­tional relief funds that al­ready ex­isted and re­pur­posed it to fight cli­mate change, while other coun­tries, such as France, have counted loans among the sup­port they have promised. But de­vel­oped coun­tries should not use cre­ative ac­count­ing ma­neu­vers to meet their obli­ga­tions, Oxfam con­tends.

“They’re not do­ing any­where near enough,” said Ms. Dent, speak­ing from War­saw. “It’s not just the U.S. It’s all de­vel­oped coun­tries. The only ones that are close to do­ing what is needed are the U.K. and Ger­many.”

Part of the prob­lem is the un­cer­tainty cre­ated by coun­tries that have not said specif­i­cally how much they will pro­vide each year from 2013 through 2015. In fact, coun­tries that pro­vided a com­bined 81 per­cent of the fast-start fund­ing have yet to say how much they will pro­vide over the next two years, or how they plan to reach the goal of $100 bil­lion a year by 2020, Oxfam re­ports. This lack of trans­parency has caused prob­lems for de­vel­op­ing coun­tries that can’t pre­pare for cli­mate change un­til they know how much money they will be re­ceiv­ing.

In the United States, cli­mate change sup­port from the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has cooled. Dur­ing the first stage of the global cam­paign against cli­mate change from 2010 through 2012 — known as the “fast start” pe­riod — the U.S. do­nated $7.5 bil­lion. Oxfam would like the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to dou­ble that num­ber over the next two years.

But in 2013, the U.S. gave just $1.6 bil­lion, Oxfam es­ti­mates.

“I hope Pres­i­dent Obama is able to fol­low through on what he has promised,” Ms. Dent said. “We’re happy with the sig­nals Obama has sent, but it re­mains to be seen whether he can fol­low through on his prom­ises to re­duce emis­sions.”

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion also left de­vel­op­ing coun­tries won­der­ing how much sup­port it would pro­vide in 2014, un­til Tues­day, when Amer­i­can en­voy Trigg Tal­ley told re­porters the U.S. would pro­vide $2.7 bil­lion next year.

The only coun­try to in­di­cate how much money it will pro­vide in 2015 is the United King­dom.

En­vi­ron­men­tal ad­vo­cacy groups ar­gue that in­dus­tri­al­ized coun­tries, such as the U.S., have played the big­gest role in caus­ing cli­mate change, and there­fore they should give poor coun­tries money to deal with the prob­lem that af­fects them the most. But in­dus­tri­al­ized coun­tries have been drag­ging their feet, Oxfam re­ported.

Poor coun­tries use the cli­mate change money to make the switch to re­new­able en­ergy and other low-carbon sources. They also use it for things such as in­stalling weather data sta­tions that tell farm­ers when to plant their crops, and ear­ly­warn­ing sys­tems that tell gov­ern­ments when a big storm is com­ing so they can evac­u­ate cities in the path of dan­ger.

“We know the sea­sons are chang­ing and of­ten­times farm­ers plant their crops at the wrong time, be­cause they don’t have the in­for­ma­tion they need,” Ms. Dent said. “In the past, the sea­sons were more pre­dictable. But th­ese days it’s not the same time each year.”

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