This week, President Obama and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will frame the discussion at the U.N. as a simple way to confront the rising tides effecting coastal and island countries. There will be much talk from wealthy and developed nations about not ignoring these problems while poor and underdeveloped countries will eagerly agree to any action plan that includes money. But the two sides have very different goals.
American and European liberals see the climate change debate, as well as the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) discussion, as an altruistic response to their global public policy concerns. United Nations officials and leaders from developing nations, however, see the climate change discussion and the fight over MDGs as their future revenue source.
The money from wealthy nations to confront some very real global poverty and economic issues is largely given out of guilt. Sadly, there is little emphasis with the climate change discussion on requiring developing nations to meet certain governance or environmental standards first; and even less concern for listening to what the people living in poverty want or need to change their dreadful circumstances.
Ironically, many poorer countries have neither the capacity nor political will to change their priorities to combat rising tides. They just want the money.
Many developing nations have such severe debt and budget problems that the money given by developed nations will never be spent the way it is intended. And how compassionate is it to ask a country of hungry, unemployed people, many of whom live amongst human trafficking and terrorism, to watch millions of dollars spent in their country on wind turbines and carbon reduction programs?
Spain’s debt is 93% of GDP and has 25 percent unemployment; who expects it to donate money to fight climate change in India? Not the Spanish people.
The Indian economy is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and is predicted to be the third largest economy by 2035. And yet the Indian government’s priority isn’t to deal with its own environmental crisis.
The Bush administration, considered the expert on Africa and African poverty, made sure that foreign governments put good governance policies in place before any U.S. foreign aid was given by the American taxpayer.
While liberals were reluctant to change the system, the Bush administration pushed through the creation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a bilateral U.S. foreign aid agency that puts strict demands on recipients of U.S. aid money. But even the U.S.-administered MCC hasn’t been able to fix the problem of poor nations unwilling or unable to eradicate wide-spread fraud, corruption and cronyism.
Manufacturers in China and India are dumping industrial waste into their rivers and polluting the air without consequences from their government. Is it our job to clean China’s air and water while they build cheap and dirty factories that build their economy?
CBC News reported, “Mercury from Asia contributes 20 to 30 per cent of the poison deposited in U.S.” Are American liberals so naïve to the lack of political will in communist and other governments that they are willing to tax the U.S. worker in order to create a program that won’t work but makes them feel better?
Demanding that the U.S. Senate pass more legislation cracking down on American companies who already have clean production and manufacturing processes isn’t helping confront the problem. And asking the U.S. consumer to continue reducing their carbon footprint, knowing that the Chinese are expanding theirs, is the worst kind of hypocrisy and deceit.
President Obama and other climate change supporters must not ignore the very real lip service they will receive from the countries wanting waiting for more aid money. Obama needs to understand that free cash will not create global political will.
President Obama has insisted that those countries ripped apart by terrorism stand up and combat the problem before American capital is used to confront the issue for them. So why isn’t he requiring them to do it for climate change too?