Sometimes problems catch you by surprise, and sometimes they can be anticipated well in advance. Recent setbacks for the global climate agenda fall into the latter category.
Earlier this month, I alerted you that global carbon emissions continue to rise worldwide due to increased pollution from China, India and other emerging economies. This increase occurred despite a reduction in the U.S. carbon footprint. Further, it happened two years after the Paris climate accord, which set goals to decrease the world’s carbon emissions. Time has vindicated what was evident when the accord was concluded: shackling the U.S. economy would not stop increases in carbon pollution.
Instead of killing jobs in America, we would be better off finding new, cleaner ways to use our carbon assets. China, India and other countries may talk green but will always default to get jobs and wealth for their people.
In the same vein, but predating the Paris agreement, is the United Nations’ (U.N.) Green Climate Fund. Former President Obama committed the United States to an initial $3 billion contribution, of which $1 billion has already been transferred. Congress never appropriated money for this purpose, so the Obama Administration’s commitment was an overreach. I have previously said that the fund itself is a bad deal for the United States. We spend billions already on climate change-related issues. Technology and innovation will have the answers we are seeking, and are where we should spend our money. By pledging to support the Green Climate Fund, the Obama Administration committed billions of dollars to an international body with an ill-defined mission and no clear accountability.
I am not surprised to learn that the Green Climate Fund has not done what its supporters claimed it would do. I am surprised to read this in the New York Times.
The Times recently ran an article, “U.N. Climate Projects, Aimed at the Poorest, Raise Red Flags,” that centered on the travails of the tiny Pacific island nation of Kiribati. As a developing country, Kiribati exemplifies what the Green Climate Fund was supposedly meant to benefit. But seven years after world leaders pledged to help countries like Kiribati; it has yet to see any project funding.
What is more, much of the money that has been granted so far has gone to recipients who have not provided clear plans for how they will spend it. For example, $265 million went to a Luxembourg-based investment fund that says it will finance projects in about 30 countries, but the Times notes this fund has provided “no explicit plan to disclose what those projects would be.” Other entities that have received grants are already awash in cash. Overall, under one-tenth of funding has been earmarked for projects run by the countries the Green Climate Fund is meant to aid.
When President Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris agreement, he cited the Green Climate Fund as an example of a program that doesn’t work. We now know that the Green Climate Fund does not even benefit the countries it was supposed to help.
Political junkies have found plenty of fodder in Europe during 2017, most recently with the German elections that occurred in September. In fact, its results are still being sorted out.
The pivotal figure in the election was Chancellor Angela Merkel. She has led Germany for over ten years and was widely expected to maintain power, despite her controversial decision to admit thousands of refugees from war-torn countries. When the vote came, Merkel’s party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), lost ground and fell well short of a majority.
As a result, she started talks with other parties across the political spectrum to cobble together a governing majority. At the time of this writing, she has reached out to the Social Democrats (SPD), a leftist party she had previously formed a government with. The SPD had run against Merkel in the election and vowed not to enter a coalition again. Other options are fading, however, and new elections are not a popular alternative, so the party came to the bargaining table.
The twists and turns offer high political drama, but they are essential to the future of Europe and by extension the United States. As Europe’s leading economy and a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Germany’s leaders affect our economy and security. The future of its government is well worth the attention of Americans.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.