China Daily

Carbon mechanisms should serve emissions fight

In 2009, in the Copenhagen Accord, the developed countries made a commitment to allocate $100 billion annually by 2020 to help developing countries address the impacts of climate change.

That promise was rooted in the fact that they have historically been the largest greenhouse gas emitters, and it is a key part of the Paris Agreement, which is a legally binding international treaty.

Yet it is a commitment that has not been met.

According to fresh analysis by UK-based agency Carbon Brief, the United States, which is responsible for 52 percent of the historical emissions added to the atmosphere by the developed countries, should be paying $39.9 billion of the pledged $100 billion climate-finance. But it had only paid $7.6 billion in 2020, the most recent year for which data is available.

And, in terms of real money, even less has been forthcoming, with most of the shortfalled financial assistance provided being in the form of loans.

Of course, securing billions of dollars in international climate aid for developing countries through budget appropriations is a losing battle in the US Congress.

The just-concluded midterm elections show just how deeply divided the world’s only superpower is and how the two sides differ with each other on all issues, including climate policies.

Which is why the Joe Biden administration is looking at other ways to raise the money.

On Wednesday, speaking at the COP 27 in Egypt, US climate envoy John Kerry unveiled a proposed carbon credit program aimed at mobilizing private capital to help the US shoulder its part of this obligation.

Announcing the snappily dubbed Energy Transition Accelerator in partnership with the Bezos Earth Fund and the Rockefeller Foundation, Kerry said that the goal is to “have this up and running no later than COP 28”, which will be held in Dubai next year.

But the plan immediately met with criticism that the commitments made by governments should not be replaced by private offsetting and that the program will facilitate greenwashing.

As German State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development Jochen Flasbarth said, the practice of trading credits “can do wonderful work” in moving money where it is needed to cut emissions — especially for industries with very difficult technological barriers. But he said that such efforts and the US proposal “are different galaxies”.

In other words, although it sounds like a plan, it probably isn’t. The Energy Transition Accelerator may have been presented in all seriousness and in good faith, but as a practical means to help the US honor its climate obligations it’s likely to be nothing more than a damp squib.

Editorial, China Daily

Categories China Daily Opinion