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Why Biden’s climate funding pitch is facing flak

Presented by Chevron: Your guide to the political forces shaping the energy transformation
Oct 19, 2023 View in browser
 

By Arianna Skibell

Presented by Chevron

Climate envoy John Kerry speaks at the U.N. COP27 Climate conference on Nov. 11, 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The Biden administration wants to put the World Bank in charge of a new fund to help developing nations suffering irreversible climate damage.

The proposal for the “loss and damage” fund threatens to hinder the U.N. climate talks that begin next month, as vulnerable countries push back against the involvement of an institution that has its roots in colonialism, writes Zack Colman.

The battle of the new fund is becoming a top issue as negotiators gather for a final meeting this week before the climate talks in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. For the United States, the World Bank is a practical choice: The country has worked with the bank for years and is its largest shareholder.

But to developing countries — which have contributed the least to climate change but bear the brunt of the fallout — the World Bank is a tool of the industrialized world to impose its economic policies. They say the loss and damage fund should operate as an independent body under the United Nations.

Those fears are not unfounded. The U.S. has emitted more planet-warming pollution than any other country since the mid-19th century but has long resisted efforts to tie compensation to climate liability.

The Biden administration only reluctantly endorsed the creation of the new fund — and so far, the U.S. hasn’t pledged any money. That’s unlikely to change: House Republicans steadfastly oppose a separate administration request for $11 billion in international climate finance.

One World Bank official told Zack that the U.S. is leaning on the bank partly because it’s a “USA policy tool” that doesn’t require new cash.

Some veterans of international climate talks also say establishing a new fund could take years. Placing the fund instead under the World Bank could mean countries get the money they need much more quickly.

“Historically it’s served as a useful anchor because it’s a trusted institution where there can be trustee services,” a State Department official involved in climate finance told Zack.

“But you know, there’s other views as well,” said the official, who is not authorized to speak publicly. “So that’ll have to be settled over time.”

 

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Why Biden’s climate funding pitch is facing flak

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