Climate debt news
Blog: Gordon Brown and the recurring £800 million for climate change
In Trinidad on Friday Gordon Brown got some headline coverage for his latest announcement of billions of dollars for developing countries to tackle climate change.
The prime minister became as expert as a derivatives trader in repackaging, reselling and reannouncing money when he was chancellor. Unfortunately the latest ‘news’ was no exception.
Mr Brown said rich countries should be creating a ‘Copenhagen launch fund’ worth $10 billion (£6 billion) to help developing countries adapt to climate change and develop in a low carbon way from 2010 to 2012. Let’s not get hung up on that amount as he wasn’t actually saying the UK would write a cheque.
What Gordon Brown did say was that “the UK Government would contribute £800 million in total over three years, which has already been budgeted for”. In fact it was budgeted for in the budget in 2007. The prime minister should know; he was chancellor at the time.
The same £800 million has been reannounced so many times since it’s enough to make you dizzy.
The money cannot go into a ‘Copenhagen launch fund’, because all of it has already been pledged to the World Bank. Some cheques have already been sent, and the final ones are due in April.
The use of the World Bank for climate change funding, rather than the UN, is opposed by governments and campaigners across developing countries.
The World Bank has a long history of acting as a political instrument of its rich country shareholders, forcing fundamentalist free market policies that are in the interest of corporations rather than the poor. Shockingly, its funding for climate change is in the form of loans, further increasing the unjust debts of developing countries.
In reality, it is the UK which owes a debt because of our past and continuing high use of fossil fuels. A pledge to repay this climate debt, through grants rather than loans, with money additional to the aid budget, and through the UN, would be genuinely new. Send Gordon a tenner to let him know.