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US: Copenhagen Accord Not A ‘Casual Agreement,’ Cuts Detractors’ Funding

April 9, 2010 by · 5 Comments 

On the first day of the UN climate negotiations in Bonn — also the first day of climate talks since Copenhagen — the United States firmly stood by the Copenhagen Accord. During the opening plenary, the American delegation said the Copenhagen Accord should be the basis of negotiations going forward. In effect, they said, the Accord should replace the text of the Long-term Cooperative Action (LCA) negotiating track. U.S. negotiators called on parties to capitalize on the progress marked by the Accord and urged the world not to consider it a “casual agreement.”

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In a clear signal that its call to support the Accord is not idle chatter, it came to light today that two countries that rejected the Copenhagen Accord have lost U.S. funding to help cope with the consequences of climate change. The State Department had originally slated $3 million for Bolivia and $2.5 million for Ecuador, but after reassessing the budget, the money was stripped.
“There’s funding that was agreed to as part of the Copenhagen Accord, and as a general matter, the U.S. is going to use its funds to go to countries that have indicated an interest to be part of the Accord,” said U.S special climate envoy Todd Stern in an interview with the Washington Post. Interestingly Stern clarified that this policy test is “not categorical,” so some small island states and other vulnerable countries may secure funding even if they don’t associate with the Accord.
Still, some climate specialists in the NGO community say the United States’ hard line could backfire in a negotiating process already rife with distrust.

“If you want to build confidence, this would not be the way to do it,” said David Waskow, climate change program director for Oxfam America, told the Washington Post. “[E]specially in light of the fact that we haven’t yet passed a climate change bill.

Alden Meyer, climate change director for the Union of Concerned Scientists, indicated the move was a bit ironic. “To cut off adaptation aid to countries suffering the impacts of climate change that are largely the result of past emissions from the US and other industrial countries risks making them look like the bad guys in a morality play,” he told The Guardian. “It is not a strategy that is going to play well in the developing world.”

Both Bolivia and Ecuador are members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), an organization of eight socialist governments in Latin and South America that has denounced the Accord.

As if to underscore their point, the Washington Post reports today that two countries that have rejected the Copenhagen Accord were stripped of funding to help cope with the consequences of climate change. The U.S. State Department had originally slated $3 and $2.5 million in climate aid for Bolivia and Ecuador, respectfully. After reassessing their budget, the State Department reallocated the aid away from the two countries.

“There’s funding that was agreed to as part of the Copenhagen Accord, and as a general matter, the U.S. is going to use its funds to go to countries that have indicated an interest to be part of the Accord,” said U.S special climate envoy Todd Stern in an interview with the Post. Interestingly, Stern clarified that this policy test is “not categorical,” leaving the door open for some small island states and other vulnerable countries to securing funding even if they don’t associate.

Some experts in the US NGO community say the United States’ hard line could backfire in a negotiating process already rife with distrust.  “If you want to build confidence, this would not be the way to do it,” said David Waskow, climate change program director, Oxfam America. “[E]specially in light of the fact that we haven’t yet passed a climate change bill. “

Alden Meyer, climate change director, Union of Concerned Scientists, indicated that withholding funds could be perceived as unfair, considering the United States’ contribution to global warming. “To cut off adaptation aid to countries suffering the impacts of climate change that are largely the result of past emissions from the US and other industrial countries risks making them look like the bad guys in a morality play. It is not a strategy that is going to play well in the developing world.”

Prior to the U.S. intervention at today’s plenary, Venezuela and Bolivia railed against the Accord and urged delegates to set it aside. The agreement represents “the economic interests of the few which are standing in the way of a broad, democratic agreement,” Venezuelan delegate Claudia Salerno told negotiators. “No one should congratulate themselves for this.”

Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuala are members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), an organization of eight socialist governments in Latin and South America that has denounced the Accord since its inception on December 18, 2009.

– Rhys Gerholdt

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