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?