I’m sure Lindsay, Aaron or Abhishek will have more on this later, but I wanted to flag Secretary Clinton’s big announcement that the United States will help set up a $100 billion fund to help poor countries adapt to the consequences of climate change and help developing countries grow in non-carbon intensive ways. This has always been an important part of the international diplomatic puzzle.
Rich developed countries like the United States got to be rich developed countries by pumping greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere without bearing in mind the long term environmental consequences of carbon-heavy growth. Now, poor countries are feeling the brunt of the last 100 years of western economic development in the form of expanding deserts, sinking islands, and depleted water supplies.
The fund that Clinton announced is about helping victims of climate change adapt to the new ecological and environmental realities brought about by Western industrialization. It is also about helping to finance economic development strategies in poorer countries that does not rely on the heavy use of fossil fuels. This funding mechanism is one half of the key bargain that diplomats are trying to strike at Copenhagen. The next step is to agree on emissions reduction levels that developed countries must bind themselves to in order to begin to reduce greenhouse gasses emitted to the atmosphere.
The fact that the United States is putting this funding proposal on the table shows, literally, that the Obama administration is willing to put its money where its mouth is. They are coming to this conference in good faith, and want an agreement to work. Given the nature of the U.S. engagement on climate issues over the past few years, this is something that should not be taken for granted.