As many faith leaders have recognized, climate change presents a massive ethical challenge since those least responsible for global warming are among the most vulnerable to its consequences, including water scarcity, climate-sensitive diseases, and sea level rise. Yet in response to the recent international climate talks, conservative media outlets are mocking developing countries for seeking adaptation assistance, saying they just want to “cash in” on “climate gold.”
Conservative Media Scoff At Climate Aid For Developing Countries
WSJ: Developing Countries Want To “Claim Their Portion Of The Promised Pot Of Climate Gold.” From a Wall Street Journal editorial on the UN climate conference in Durban, South Africa:
All of this raises the question of what purpose this conference served. Cynics might say that rich countries are doing the least they can to honor promises they once made but no longer believe in and can’t afford anyway. Cynics might also say that poorer countries are hoping that someday they may claim their portion of the promised pot of climate change gold. The cynics would be right. [Wall Street Journal, 12/13/11]
Hayward Calls Climate Aid “Unserious Talk” Akin To “New International Economic Order.” From a column by Steven Hayward in the New York Post:
Meanwhile, the UN groupies committed to providing $100 billion a year in climate aid for developing nations, but there’s no mechanism for coughing up the money.
“Climate assistance” has revived the old idea of requiring wealthy nations to indemnify poor nations. This kind of unserious talk brings discredit to international climate diplomacy, but it’s popular with much of the UN’s constituency. It dates to the 1970s, when it was called the “New International Economic Order.”
The premise of the New International Economic Order, as explained at the time by West Germany’s Willy Brandt, was that there needed to be “a large-scale transfer of resources to developing countries.” This came to an abrupt end in the 1980s, when President Ronald Reagan forcefully repudiated it at a UN summit.
Let’s call climate diplomacy what it is: climate dipsomania. And here’s a suggestion for any GOP candidate who wants to peel off some undecided primary voters: Pledge that if you’re elected, America will stop participating in the UN climate circus. [New York Post, 12/13/11]
Wash. Times: Developing Countries Want To “Cash In” With Climate Aid Fund. From a Washington Times editorial:
European Union climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard commended representatives from 194 nations for “working to the very last minute to secure that we cash in what has been achieved and what should be achieved here.” The “cash” she referred to is $100 billion in annual taxes developed nations would pay into a “Green Climate Fund,” which then would be redistributed to underdeveloped countries to mitigate the impact of purported global warming. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said recently that the fund needs to collect $76 trillion over 40 years. Good luck selling that plan in today’s teetering economy.
While the U.N. conclave spent two weeks persuading developed members to redistribute their wealth to the less prosperous, leaders of “rich” European countries were struggling to stave off a financial collapse of the eurozone. The United States isn’t much better off, as Washington lawmakers remain at loggerheads over how to tackle the nation’s $15 trillion debt.
If Durban conferees noticed the irony of plans to “cash in” from empty pockets, it was not apparent. Such folk occupy an alternate universe in which the belief that mankind is solely responsible for heating the planet is not to be questioned. [Washington Times, 12/12/11]
IBD Labels Aid For Poor Nations “A Corrupt Redistribution Of Wealth.” From an Investor’s Business Daily editorial:
The world might be lost in five or six years, but there’s always enough time to keep pushing for a corrupt redistribution of wealth that will drain developed nations.
In the absence of such a deal, some conference representatives proposed a global climate court of justice that would let climate change “victims” force the rich, top carbon dioxide-producing countries to pay up. [Investor's Business Daily, 12/12/11]
Morano: Climate Fund Incentivizes Poor Countries To Stay Poor. From a Newsmax article by Climate Depot editor Marc Morano titled “UN Climate Fund Will Keep Developing World Poor”:
South African development activist Leon Louw declared the U.N.’s “Green Climate Fund” nothing more than an attempt by wealthy nations to keep the poor nations from developing.
In an exclusive interview with Climate Depot at the Durban U.N. climate summit, Louw declared foreign aid or “government-to-government aid” is simply a way for rich countries to reward poor countries who are “best at causing poverty.” Louw is the Executive Director of South Africa’s Free Market Institute, an influential think tank in Africa.
“What the governments of rich countries are saying to poor countries is: ‘Those of you who are best at causing poverty, we will enrich you, we will give you money,’” Louw told Climate Depot while attending the summit. [Newsmax, 12/12/11]
Heritage: Poor Countries “Want Handouts” In Climate Agreement. From a post to the Heritage Foundation’s blog by Romina Boccia:
Developing countries are not only asking to be exempt from any emissions restrictions, but they also want handouts from countries like the United States.
It is high time for these failed U.N. climate talks to come to an end once and for all. At the very least, the U.S. should remove itself from this recurring process, which paints America as a pariah as long as it won’t buckle to the outlandish demands of other nations. U.S. taxpayers should not be on the hook for handouts, risking America’s return to a strong and vibrant economy for the sake of costly and ineffective emissions reductions or distorting tax policy. [Heritage's The Foundry, 12/6/11]
Monckton Says Developed Nations Must Pay For Assistance Due To UN’s “Anti-Western Bias.” From Lord Christopher Monckton’s report for Climate Depot:
The nations of the West (for which the UN’s code is “Annex I parties”) are from now on required to beat their breasts (or at least their strait-jackets) and acknowledge their “historical responsibility” for increasing CO2 emissions and giving us warmer weather. The draft says: “Acknowledging that the largest share of the historical global emissions of greenhouse gases originated in Annex I Parties and that, owing to this historical responsibility in terms of their contribution to the average global temperature increase, Annex I Parties must take the lead in combating climate change and the adverse effects thereof.” This new concept of “historical responsibility” – suspiciously akin to the “war-guilt” of post-1918 Germany, declared by the imprudent governments of the world at the Versailles conference, which was no small cause of World War II – further underscores the rapidly-growing anti-Western bias in the UN and in the Convention’s secretariat. [Climate Depot, 12/9/11]
Forbes’ Bell Denounces Assistance As “Vengeance” To Solve “Fictitious Climate Problems.” Larry Bell wrote in a Forbes.com column:
One year after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged at least $100 billion annually by 2020 to help Third World countries address climate problems attributed to America and capitalism at the U.N.-sponsored World Climate-Change Summit in Copenhagen, the Cancun meeting that followed focused primarily upon formulating a plan of action to implement that commitment. This commenced literally with a vengeance, producing the design for a new $100 billion per year “Green Climate Fund” (GCF). Its purpose is nothing less than to fundamentally transform the global economy…beginning with ours.
Much worse, consider the insanity of the Obama administration’s annual pledge of $100 billion we don’t have to assist other countries in solving fictitious climate problems premised upon the U.N.’s politically-corrupted agenda-driven IPCC report summaries. [Forbes.com, 12/6/11]
Reason Mocks “Climate Reparations” For Poor Countries. Reason Magazine’s Ronald Bailey mocked Chinese Minister Xie Zhenhua’s demands, and repeatedly labelled the Green Climate Fund “reparations.” Bailey wrote a “Translation” of Xie’s demands: “Rich guys keep on cutting your emissions and keep on shoveling billions of dollars in climate reparations to poor countries.” In another article, Bailey again said that China demanded that “rich countries begin showering poor countries with $100 billion in climate reparations annually.” [Reason, 12/8/11] [Reason, 12/6/11]
Poor Countries Will Suffer Most From The Climate Changes Driven By More Prosperous Nations
The Economist: Developing Countries Will Bear The Vast Majority Of Climate Change Burdens. The Economist reported:
In a report in 2006 Nicholas (now Lord) Stern calculated that a 2°C rise in global temperature cost about 1% of world GDP. But the World Bank, in its new World Development Report*, now says the cost to Africa will be more like 4% of GDP and to India, 5%. Even if environmental costs were distributed equally to every person on earth, developing countries would still bear 80% of the burden (because they account for 80% of world population).
The poor are more vulnerable than the rich for several reasons. Flimsy housing, poor health and inadequate health care mean that natural disasters of all kinds hurt them more. When Hurricane Mitch swept through Honduras in 1998, for example, poor households lost 15-20% of their assets but the rich lost only 3%.
Global warming aggravates that. It also increases the chances of catching the life-threatening diseases that are more prevalent in poorer countries. In many places cities have been built just above a so-called “malaria line”, above which malaria-bearing mosquitoes cannot survive (Nairobi is one example). Warmer weather allows the bugs to move into previously unaffected altitudes, spreading a disease that is already the biggest killer in Africa. By 2030 climate change may expose 90m more people to malaria in Africa alone. Similarly, meningitis outbreaks in Africa are strongly correlated with drought. Both are likely to increase. Diarrhoea is forecast to rise 5% by 2020 in poor countries because of climate change. Dengue fever has been expanding its range: its incidence doubled in parts of the Americas between 1995-97 and 2005-07. On one estimate, 60% of the world’s population will be exposed to the disease by 2070.
The biggest vulnerability is that the weather gravely affects developing countries’ main economic activities–such as farming and tourism. Global warming dries out farmland. Since two-thirds of Africa is desert or arid, the continent is heavily exposed. One study predicts that by 2080 as much as a fifth of Africa’s farmland will be severely stressed. And that is only one part of the problem. [The Economist, 9/17/09]
National Research Council: Threats To Developing Countries Include Water Scarcity, Food Shortages, Severe Storms, Sea Level Rise, International Conflict. From a 2010 National Research Council study:
Climate change is already affecting resource availability globally, and future impacts could lead to dramatic changes in economic and environmental conditions, creating both humanitarian and national security concerns (IPCC, 2007a; Khagram and Ali, 2006; World Bank, 2010). For example, projected increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events could lead to increased vulnerability across the globe; these and other climate-related threats to sustainable development in some countries in Africa and Asia may create an increased need for humanitarian assistance (World Bank, 2010). In countries with unstable governments, climate change impacts can act as stress multipliers that have the potential to contribute to geopolitical instabilities (CNA, 2007). Particular concerns might include regional water scarcity and food shortages (Cooley et al., 2009; Schmidhuber and Tubiello, 2007), severe storms, sea level rise in densely populated low lying areas, and human health impacts of climate change (World Bank, 2010). In addition, the potential migration of populations that may be displaced by climate change (e.g., by sea level rise or persistent drought) could exhaust resources available where resettlement is established (World Bank, 2010). Should any of these destabilizing events occur across borders, the resulting resource competition could possibly lead to international conflict. [National Research Council, 2010]
World Health Organization: “Areas With Weak Health Infrastructure” Are “The Least Able To Cope Without Assistance To Prepare and Respond.” From a World Health Organization document on the impacts of climate change on human health:
- Many of the major killers such as diarrhoeal diseases, malnutrition, malaria and dengue are highly climate-sensitive and are expected to worsen as the climate changes.
- Areas with weak health infrastructure – mostly in developing countries – will be the least able to cope without assistance to prepare and respond. [WHO, January 2010]
Study: “The Most Strongly Affected Countries Emit Small Amounts Of CO2 Per Capita.” From a 2011 study published in Environmental Research Letters:
The Earth is warming on average, and most of the global warming of the past half-century can very likely be attributed to human influence. But the climate in particular locations is much more variable, raising the question of where and when local changes could become perceptible enough to be obvious to people in the form of local warming that exceeds interannual variability; indeed only a few studies have addressed the significance of local signals relative to variability. It is well known that the largest total warming is expected to occur in high latitudes, but high latitudes are also subject to the largest variability, delaying the emergence of significant changes there. Here we show that due to the small temperature variability from one year to another, the earliest emergence of significant warming occurs in the summer season in low latitude countries (≈25°S-25°N). We also show that a local warming signal that exceeds past variability is emerging at present, or will likely emerge in the next two decades, in many tropical countries. Further, for most countries worldwide, a mean global warming of 1 °C is sufficient for a significant temperature change, which is less than the total warming projected for any economically plausible emission scenario. The most strongly affected countries emit small amounts of CO2 per capita and have therefore contributed little to the changes in climate that they are beginning to experience. [Environmental Research Letters, July 2011]
In March, science writer John Cook reported that a separate study (Samson et al 2011) “estimated which regions are most vulnerable to future climate change” and created a map comparing this to national carbon dioxide emissions per capita:
To estimate the impact of climate change on people, scientists from McGill University, Montreal, developed a new metric called Climate Demography Vulnerability Index (CDVI). This takes into account how regional climate will change as well as how much local population is expected to grow. They incorporated this index into a global map and found highly vulnerable regions included central South America, the Middle East and both eastern and southern Africa. Less vulnerable regions were largely in the northern part of the Northern Hemisphere. [Huffington Post, 3/16/11]
Small Islands Have Some Of The Lowest Emissions But Will Suffer Some Of The Greatest Damage From Climate Change. From the book Climate Change and Small Island States: Power, Knowledge and the South Pacific by Dr. Jon Barnett and John Campbell:
It is commonly assumed that PICs [Pacific Island countries] play a very small role in contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. A database on national emissions maintained by the World Resources Institute includes 11 of the 14 independent Pacific Island countries (WRI, 2008). Its data shows that in both absolute and per capita terms, emissions from the region are very low. Total emissions from the 11 countries account for around 0.04 percent of the global total, and they comprise 7 of the lowest 12 emitters in the dataset.
The IPCC, AR4 (2007) has indicated with a very high degree of confidence that small islands are highly vulnerable to climate change. This assessment is based on the countries’ high levels of exposure to sea-level rise and extreme events, and assumptions about their susceptibility to damage from those events and their limited adaptive capcity. [Cliamte Change and Small Island States, p. 10-11]
Faith Leaders: Moral Imperative To Address Climate Change
Evangelical Leaders Call For Action On Climate Change Because It “Hit[s] The Poor The Hardest.” Eighty-six American evangelical Christian leaders issued the following statement titled “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action”:
Poor nations and poor individuals have fewer resources available to cope with major challenges and threats. The consequences of global warming will therefore hit the poor the hardest, in part because those areas likely to be significantly affected first are in the poorest regions of the world. Millions of people could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors.
Christians must care about climate change because we are called to love our neighbors, to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, and to protect and care for the least of these as though each was Jesus Christ himself (Mt. 22:34-40; Mt. 7:12; Mt. 25:31-46).
Christians, noting the fact that most of the climate change problem is human induced, are reminded that when God made humanity he commissioned us to exercise stewardship over the earth and its creatures. Climate change is the latest evidence of our failure to exercise proper stewardship, and constitutes a critical opportunity for us to do better (Gen. 1:26-28). [The Evangelical Climate Initiative, 2006, via NPR]
Faith Leaders Call For Urgent Action At Durban. Christian Today reported that as UN climate talks occurred in Durban, faith leaders issued an declaration on climate change:
Faith leaders including Ela Ghandi, the granddaughter of Mahatma Ghandi, and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Durban, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, are pressing negotiators to reach an agreement before the summit ends next week.
They unveiled an interfaith declaration on climate change yesterday warning that the Earth faces “irreparable” damage if governments delay action any further.
The faith declaration is backed by Christian Aid. The agency’s climate expert, Mohamed Adow, said that the world could expect suffering on a “huge” scale if nothing is done to address climate change now.
“We want to leave Durban with a deal which is a strong response to the climate chaos which is hurtling towards us – and which is already having devastating effects on poor people,” he said. [Christian Today, 12/3/11]
Pope Called For Action On Climate Change With Special Regard For The Poor. Around the time of the Copenhagen climate change conference, Pope Benedict XVI said:
I hope that the work will help identify actions that are respectful of creation and that will promote a joint development based on human dignity and for the common good. The integrity of creation requires the adoption of sober and responsible lifestyles, especially towards the poor and future generations. In this perspective, to ensure the full success of the Conference, I invite all people of good will to respect the laws laid down by God in nature and to rediscover the moral dimension of human life. [Treehugger, 12/7/09]
Reverend: We Must Address Global Warming To Help The Poor. From the book Global Warming and the Risen LORD: Christian Discipleship and Climate Change by Rev. Jim Ball, one of the leaders of the Evangelical Environmental Network:
[I]f we love the LORD, we must love the poor. You can choose to not love the LORD but you cannot choose to love and follow the LORD and to not love the poor.
If you live in a poor country, and in an area that will be hit hard by global warming, then you are potentially the most vulnerable of all. You have done nothing to create this new vulnerability you must face. Others have put you at risk. Others have made you more vulnerable.
Even though the United States and other developed countries are the most responsible for creating this new vulnerability, it was not done intentionally. But now that we know, we cannot pass by on the other side. Empowered by Christ’s grace and with the Risen LORD walking beside us, we are to care for the least of these by helping to overcome global warming. [Global Warming and the Risen LORD, p. 89-92]