Washington DC — Tonight as leaders from 40 countries attempted to wrap up more than 10 months of negotiations in Cape Town, South Africa, on the creation of a new Green Climate Fund, the United States threatened to derail the process.
The purpose of a new fund is to fairly and effectively channel the billions of dollars developing nations will need to adapt to the growing impacts of climate change and shift to low-carbon economies. Because of their responsibility for causing the climate crisis, industrialized country governments — like the United States — agreed under the UN climate convention to provide financial support to poorer countries.
In the eleventh hour the United States, joined by oil tycoon Saudi Arabia, blocked consensus, stalling out the talks. Negotiations resumed, but the outcome was ultimately disappointing. The United States won language that would give global corporations, international financiers and institutions like the World Bank a direct line into public money, potentially sidestepping the priorities of developing countries and impacted communities and undercutting environmental and social safeguards.
Corporate investors put their money where it can make the biggest buck, not in protecting the poor from rising sea level, drought, famine and extreme storms. By putting the fate of the Green Climate Fund into the hands of corporations and the private sector, the United States is placing a stop payment order on their commitment to provide public support to the men, women and children most devastated by climate change.
While hundreds of thousands of ordinary people around the world are joining the Occupy Wall Street protesters to decry inequality between the super-rich and society’s most vulnerable, the United States government is once again taking the side of corporate interests.
It is glaringly hypocritical that the United States tosses away hundreds of billions of public dollars each year on endless wars, yet claims that only through private sector profit can we afford to keep our promises to the world’s poor for ensuring real human security.
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Janet Redman is co-director of the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network, where she provides analysis of the international financial institutions’ energy investment and carbon finance activities. Her recent studies on the World Bank’s climate activities include World Bank: Climate Profiteer, and Dirty is the New Clean: A critique of the World Bank’s strategic framework for development and climate change. She has appeared on several radio programs and C-SPAN sharing positive visions for fair and equitable climate action in the United States and overseas. As a founding participant in the global Climate Justice Now! network, Janet is committed to bringing hard-hitting policy analysis into grassroots and grasstops organizing.
Before joining IPS, Janet was a visiting faculty member at the College of the Atlantic and directed the Watershed Initiative of the Center for Applied Human Ecology at the College. Her work in youth and women’s empowerment through community farming and sustainability has brought Janet from coastal Maine to Bangladesh.
Janet holds a Master’s Degree from Clark University in International Development and Social Change, where she focused her graduate research on regional trade integration in Latin America and the Caribbean. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Vermont.
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