Na­tions use Paris ac­cord to spread wealth

Threaten to con­tinue pol­lut­ing un­less rest of the world pays up

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY BEN WOLF­GANG

Yemen has promised a whop­ping 1 per­cent cut in green­house gas emis­sions as part of the global Paris cli­mate agree­ment.

North Korea, mean­while, has said its pol­lu­tion will dou­ble by 2030 com­pared with 2000 lev­els — but only if the rest of the world writes a siz­able check. Oth­er­wise, its emis­sions will rise even fur­ther.

Peru says it can cut emis­sions by 30 per­cent by 2030 com­pared with its “busi­ness as usual” pro­jec­tions, though that would be a net pol­lu­tion in­crease of 22 per­cent and is con­tin­gent on bil­lions of dol­lars in fund­ing.

In­dia, Iran, South Su­dan, Niger, the Cen­tral African Re­pub­lic, Cuba, Egypt, Paraguay and a host of other coun­tries have sim­i­lar de­mands: Pay up, or else they will have to keep pol­lut­ing.

When Pres­i­dent Trump pulled out of the Paris cli­mate ac­cord last week, his crit­ics — including former Pres­i­dent Barack Obama — said he was turn­ing his back on the fu­ture and join­ing only Syria and Nicaragua in re­fus­ing to take part.

But for many that re­main in the ac­cord, the de­mands for cash are fu­el­ing the ar­gu­ment that the Paris agree­ment, at its core, is as much about re­dis­tribut­ing in­ter­na­tional wealth as it is about sav­ing the planet from cli­mate change.

Sup­port­ers of the deal rou­tinely

point out that 193 coun­tries have signed on. Although that is tech­ni­cally true, the vast ma­jor­ity of com­mit­ments of­fered in Paris would re­sult in emis­sions in­creases or would re­quire bil­lions of dol­lars in fund­ing — or, in many cases, both.

“Claim­ing that 193 coun­tries signed on is a mean­ing­less state­ment, which is likely why it’s made. The mean­ing­ful way to view it is that 193 coun­tries agreed that the U.S. should harm it­self and to gladly pay on Tuesday for the U.S. to harm it­self today,” said Chris Horner, a se­nior fel­low at the Com­pet­i­tive En­ter­prise In­sti­tute and a lead­ing critic of the Paris pact. “There’s a stark dif­fer­ence be­tween agree­ing to sign on to Paris and agree­ing to do some­thing, to un­der­take pain. … In essence, they rented their sig­na­ture for the prom­ise of Paris­re­lated wealth trans­fers. But for them to prom­ise to do any­thing be­yond take our money and im­pose the agenda, too, would re­ally cost us.”

Un­like much of the de­vel­op­ing world, ma­jor coun­tries such as the U.S., Rus­sia and China did not make their com­mit­ments be­holden to in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial sup­port. The U.S. vowed to cut its emis­sions at least 26 per­cent by 2030 com­pared with 2005 lev­els; Rus­sia made a sim­i­lar com­mit­ment.

China said it will hit peak emis­sions by 2030 and then be­gin re­duc­tions. The Euro­pean Union is aim­ing for a 40 per­cent cut by 2030 ver­sus 1990 lev­els.

Other de­vel­oped coun­tries, such as Canada and Ja­pan, also did not make their prom­ises con­tin­gent on fi­nan­cial help.

But for the vast ma­jor­ity of the coun­tries, their prom­ises aren’t fea­si­ble with­out a ma­jor in­flux of money.

At least $420 bil­lion has been for­mally re­quested un­der coun­tries’ sub­mis­sions to the Paris agree­ment, ac­cord­ing to Car­bon Brief, a U.K.-based group that tracks in­ter­na­tional cli­mate change and main­tains a com­pre­hen­sive data­base of all in­for­ma­tion re­lated to the Paris deal.

That fig­ure, how­ever, is far lower than what will ul­ti­mately be re­quired. Many coun­tries do not spec­ify ex­actly how much money it will take to meet their emis­sions re­duc­tion tar­gets.

Yemen, for ex­am­ple, said it could in­crease its 1 per­cent pledge to 14 per­cent with fi­nan­cial help, but the coun­try — the poor­est in the Mus­lim world — didn’t in­di­cate how much cash it needs.

Some an­a­lysts say the fi­nal fig­ure for world­wide com­pli­ance with the Paris pledges would be in the tril­lions of dol­lars. U.N. of­fi­cials es­ti­mated that it would cost at least $100 bil­lion per year, and that fig­ure could rise to more than $400 bil­lion per year by 2020 to en­sure com­pli­ance.

When the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion fi­nal­ized the agree­ment in De­cem­ber 2015, it com­mit­ted $3 bil­lion to the United Na­tions’ Green Cli­mate Fund, which is meant to help coun­tries meet their tar­gets. Only $1 bil­lion of that has been paid out, and the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion won’t sign off on any fur­ther pay­ments.

In fact, the pres­i­dent specif­i­cally cited that fund and its reliance on U.S. cash as key rea­sons for pulling out of the deal.

“So we’re go­ing to be pay­ing bil­lions and bil­lions and bil­lions of dol­lars, and we’re al­ready way ahead of any­body else. Many of the other coun­tries haven’t spent any­thing, and many of them will never pay one dime,” Mr. Trump said in his Rose Gar­den ad­dress last week. “Amer­ica is $20 tril­lion in debt. … And yet, un­der the Paris Ac­cord, bil­lions of dol­lars that ought to be in­vested right here in Amer­ica will be sent to the very coun­tries that have taken our fac­to­ries and our jobs away from us. So think of that.”

Some an­a­lysts say the Green Cli­mate Fund would work against ef­forts to make the U.S. econ­omy greener by fun­nel­ing money from tech­no­log­i­cal re­search to de­vel­op­ing na­tions.

“These very real ex­penses will con­sume money that could be used by the pri­vate sec­tor to fund in­no­va­tive new tech­nolo­gies that are eco­nom­i­cally sound and can power our so­ci­ety with lit­tle pol­lu­tion,” Pa­trick Michaels, direc­tor of the Cen­ter for the Study of Sci­ence at the lib­er­tar­ian Cato In­sti­tute, said last week after Mr. Trump an­nounced Amer­ica’s with­drawal.

It’s un­clear whether the agree­ment can sur­vive with­out U.S. fi­nan­cial sup­port. The pres­i­dent has said he is will­ing to re-en­ter the deal if he can se­cure terms more fa­vor­able for the U.S., though he seemed un­will­ing to put the coun­try on the hook for sig­nif­i­cant pay­outs to de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

Still, sup­port­ers of the Paris ac­cord as it is cur­rently struc­tured ar­gue that it of­fers eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties to the U.S. by pro­mot­ing jobs in clean en­ergy.

“So, be­cause of this de­ci­sion, Amer­i­can lead­er­ship in those sec­tors is now go­ing to be put at risk,” former Sec­re­tary of State John F. Kerry, a key ar­chi­tect of the deal, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sun­day. “We could lose some of our abil­ity to be able to grow those jobs and in fact lose out on the largest mar­ket of the fu­ture. The big­gest mar­ket in the world in the fu­ture is go­ing to be tril­lions of dol­lars spent in the sec­tor of en­ergy.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

CHOKEHOLD: With pol­lu­tion lev­els al­ready danger­ously high in Bei­jing, China said it will hit peak emis­sions by 2030 and then be­gin re­duc­tions un­der the Paris cli­mate agree­ment. China did not make its com­mit­ment be­holden to in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial sup­port but may find it­self pay­ing de­vel­op­ing na­tions to stop pol­lut­ing.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

In­dia and a host of other coun­tries have made de­mands to more de­vel­oped coun­tries that have signed onto the Paris Agree­ment on cli­mate change: Pay up, or else they will have to keep pol­lut­ing.

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