Clinton under pressure on climate change

Senior Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee are urging Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to press for an independent “global climate fund” that helps developing countries. 

The Democrats want Clinton to push for the fund at the United Nations climate summit late this year in Mexico.

In a letter Tuesday, the chairmen of five subcommittees say the fund – which would help developing nations adapt to climate change and curb emissions – must be independent of existing financial institutions.

“To ensure the effective use of U.S. taxpayer dollars and positive climate outcomes, the fund should embody principles of: transparency and accountability, direct access to funding based on agreed fiduciary standards and social safeguards, and full participation of affected communities, particularly women, and civil society,” states the letter from Reps. Eni F.H. Faleomavaega (American Samoa), Brad Sherman (Calif.), Gary Ackerman (N.Y.), Donald Payne (N.J.) and Eliot Engel (N.Y.).

“It is also essential that the fund is independent in management and governance from existing financial intuitions. Such principles are fundamental to the fund’s integrity and will help ensure that effective, efficient and sustainable work on the ground is achieved,” it adds.

The call for an independent fund comes as some non-governmental groups fear that a program under the World Bank or other development banks would face undue influence from large corporations and rich nations.

UN climate talks are underway in Tianjin, China this week ahead of the major summit in Cancun that begins in late November. Last year’s Copenhagen summit yielded a non-binding agreement to provide climate aid to developing nations that reaches $100 billion annually by 2020. 

Reuters notes that while nations have agreed to create a climate fund, “the fund's design has yet to be agreed and is likely to be linked to an agreement on independent and regular monitoring of developing nations' steps to curb their emissions.”

The House Democrats’ letter says that helping to establish the fund will re-assert U.S. credibility on climate change in the absence of a U.S. emissions law.

It suggests that several existing funds would provide good models, including the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and the multilateral fund to implement the Montreal Protocol to phase out ozone-depleting substances.

The letter calls a global fund an essential outcome of the UN talks, which are not expected to result in a binding emissions-cutting deal.

“A new global climate fund designed within the [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] with the expertise, independence, and mandate to support developing countries in their efforts to build resilience to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions is a crucial component of addressing the global problem,” it states.

“Such a fund is also in the national security, economic, and moral interests of the U.S. Left unaddressed, climate impacts will fuel greater poverty and conflict over ever-scarcer resources – increasing global instability and exacerbating security risks,” the letter adds.