President Obama’s $3 billion pledge to support the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund (GCF) is only the beginning of what promises to be one of the most expensive boondoggles in history. On Thursday, the GCF will hold its High-Level Pledging Conference in Berlin where even more money will be poured down the drain. No one, least of all the United States with its total public debt of almost $18 trillion, should donate a cent to the GCF.
The GCF was created by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) “to combat climate change,” by which the UN generally means mitigation, the attempt to stop the climate from changing. But that is impossible. Carleton University earth sciences professor Tim Patterson explains, “The only constant about climate is change; it changes continually. We certainly have no chance of stopping this natural phenomenon.”
According to the GCF Website, “The Fund will contribute to the achievement of the ultimate objective of the UNFCCC.” The UNFCCC treaty states: “The ultimate objective of this Convention … is to achieve … stabilization of greenhouse gas [GHG] concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic [human-caused] interference with the climate system.”
When the UNFCCC was written in 1992, scientists had no idea what, if any, GHG concentrations would cause “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” We still don’t. Professor Bob Carter, former Head of the Department of Earth Sciences at James Cook University in Australia goes further to assert, “Science has yet to provide unambiguous evidence that problematic, or even measurable, human-caused global warming is occurring.”
So the UNFCCC, and anything derived from it such as the GCF, is based on a myth, the illusion that we know that humanity controls global climate through our GHG emissions. It is this deception that is being used to extort vast sums of money from developed countries to pay for climate mitigation and adaptation efforts in the developing world.
Lucille Sering, vice chairperson of the Philippines’ Climate Change Commission, summed up the strategy of developing world negotiators when she said at the UN climate summit in Warsaw last year, “If the developed countries had shown the leadership to reduce greenhouse gases at the onset of this convention, we, the most vulnerable, would not have to adapt. We would not have to ask or push for adaptation support … In the face of historical emissions of developed countries, and concurrent inaction, we demand the institutionalization of a mechanism that can help our countries face the losses and damages that climate change will bring. “
So UNFCCC negotiators set the GCF price tag at $100 billion per year that is to be transferred from the treasuries of developed to developing nations to pay for our supposed climate sins.
And that is only beginning. In the “Warsaw international mechanism for loss and damage associated with climate change impacts,” national delegates agreed to open the door to literally trillions of dollars in compensation for the impact of extreme weather events that are allegedly the fault of the developed world. Under this new regime, bizarre legal actions such as Micronesia’s 2011 legal challenge against the Czech Republic for contributing to sea level rise due to its plans to expand a coal-fired power station, may become commonplace. The costs of extreme weather events all over the world are about to be added to our bill.
Developing countries are taking a huge gamble playing the guilt card to pressure developed nations into increased climate change adaptation support. For developed countries carrying enormous debt loads, much of the funding for the GCF and any loss and damage compensation may simply come out of current foreign aid budgets. Will the funds be transferred back into foreign aid when the climate scare collapses, as it almost certainly will as the problems in the science become more broadly understood? Western governments will be hard pressed to continue funding for anything related to climate change, even legitimate adaptation to natural events, once the climate movement is thoroughly disgraced.
Negotiators from developing countries must also consider whether guilt is the most effective way to generate increased aid. No one blamed wealthy nations for the 2004 tsunami in India, yet humanitarian aid, most of it from non-government sources, was overwhelming. It seems unlikely that the public would have given more if we had been blamed for the tragedy.
Most media and politicians portray the Green Climate Fund as focused almost exclusively on adaptation to climate change. Although developing country negotiators would undoubtedly like that to be true, the GCF states on their website that “The Fund will strive to maximize the impact of its funding for adaptation and mitigation, and seek a balance between the two.”
It seems unlikely that adaptation will ever get as much as mitigation. Mitigation projects generate huge profits for alternative energy corporations, carbon traders, and others while the ‘boots on the ground’ approach typical of adaptation initiatives are far less lucrative. Consequently, although the UN promoted a 50:50 split between mitigation and adaptation funding at the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, the actual situation since then has been completely different. Of the roughly one billion U.S. dollars spent every day across the world on climate finance in 2012, for example, only 6 percent of it was devoted adaptation. The rest was wasted on financially profitable but useless mitigation efforts.
When negotiators meet in Berlin on Thursday, all pledges to the Green Climate Fund should be withdrawn and the fund scrapped. All discussions about assisting developing nations should then be transferred back to the foreign affairs arena where humanitarian concerns, limited by our own financial considerations, determine how much we donate.
Tom Harris is Executive Director of the Ottawa-based International Climate Science Coalition (www.