Transparency and climate change payouts

Publish What You Fund‘s Federico Pirzio-Biroli is concerned that rich countries will divert traditional aid towards financing climate change mitigation in developing countries rather than generating new funds.

The poverty advocacy group ONE has launched a last ditch attempt to stop aid money being ‘double counted’. Their petition will be handed to the Danish host of the conference next week and asks:

1. That existing aid promises are kept.
2. That additional costs borne by people living in poverty caused by climate change are paid for by additional money.
3. That countries are transparent about how much development aid is being reallocated to fighting climate change.

I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I’m less worried than Pirzio-Biroli about diverted resources: we’re still recovering from a downturn in global prosperity and aid (like it or not) is pro-cyclical. I’m much more concerned that climate change mitigation funds won’t be used for their intended purpose  Most of the receiving nations have enough trouble implementing the aid they do receive- what are the chances that funds will be used to transform entire countries to better deal with global warming? I think it’s much more likely that all the showboating by the poorest countries (like staging 1.5 hour walk outs, or, as Jon Stewart calls it, “lunch”) is just veiled rent-seeking.

Then again, climate-change funds might be easier to control (and, unfortunately, withdraw) than traditional aid. If you did believe that developing countries are pure in their motives for seeking mitigation funds (or even if you believed that they were at least seeking fungibility for good reasons), then why not just lobby for an extra dose of general budget support, and let them make their own trade-off between investing in mitigation and dealing with the rest of their troubles?

4 thoughts on “Transparency and climate change payouts

  1. Ranil Dissanayake

    December 17, 2009 at 5:31am

    Zanzibar is doing it’s bit. In solidarity with the Copenhagen summit, we’ve decided to forgo electricity altogether (it may not be entirely out of choice), and we’re looking at a total of 2/3 weeks in the dark.

    On the flip side, hospitals are operating in the dark since there’s a diesel shortage, too; most Ungujans have no access to clean water since many wells use electric pumps; the big hotels are using upwards of 300 litres of diesel a day and so on… GDP will suffer significantly

    All this climate change stuff will take a distant, distant, distant second place to ensuring reliable power for the vast majority of the very poor countries. Unless someone wants to invest about 8 billion dollars making sure Sub-Saharan Africa has reliable, clean energy, the climate agenda is not going to go forward at all here. The economy will come first.

  2. Ra

    December 17, 2009 at 5:37am

    crikey that’s the second time in two days I’ve put in an inappropriate apostrophe. I think the power cut is affecting my brain function.

  3. Iyinoluwa Aboyeji

    December 17, 2009 at 8:26am

    Just watch some opportunistic dictator will crack when the price is right. They had better just do it pay as you go. When they reduce the emissions, they get the money. Simple!

  4. Iyinoluwa Aboyeji

    December 17, 2009 at 8:31am

    Or even better they should just make the US, the EU and China take more “ambitious” cuts. Its not like Africans are emitting anything at all in the first place.

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