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Bolivia, Ecuador denied climate funds

By Juliet Eilperin

You can decide to boycott the Copenhagen Accord -- but that comes at a price. For Bolivia, that's $3 million; for Ecuador, it's $2.5 million.

Bolivia emerged as one of the most vociferous critics of the U.S.-brokered climate deal last December, arguing that the political deal aimed at establishing a global trading system for greenhouse gas emissions amounted to an assault by capitalist countries on poor ones. Bolivian president Evo Morales has organized his own climate conference, which will take place later this month.

Ecuador, for its part, submitted a letter on Jan. 31 stating that it "will not join" the agreement, unlike 122 other countries who have either signed on or have pledged to endorse it.

Both nations were in line for funding under the Obama administration's Global Climate Change initiative. The State Department's congressional budget justification for fiscal year 2010 included a request for $3 million for Bolivia and $2.5 million, according to administration officials, but Congress pared down the $373 million for U.S. AID climate change assistance programs to $305.7 million.

After reassessing the budget, State has decided to deny both Bolivia and Ecuador climate assistance. Since all these funding decisions are subject to congressional concurrence, the process is not complete, but it clearly reflects administration policy.

"There's funding that was agreed to as part of the Copenhagen Accord, and as a general matter, the U.S. is going to use its funds to go to countries that have indicated an interest to be part of the Accord," said U.S. special climate envoy Todd Stern in an interview. He added this policy test was "not categorical," so some nations that declined to sign on could still obtain circumstances.

But David Waskow, climate change program director for Oxfam America, challenged Stern's reasoning.

"No one can question that poor people in Bolivia and Ecuador are extremely vulnerable to climate change impacts. We should be making these decisions based on the merits of which communities need our support, not some other factors," Waskow said. "If you want to build confidence and trust among developing countries, this would not be the way to do it, especially in light of the fact that we haven't yet passed a climate change bill."


Juliet Eilperin

 |  April 9, 2010; 10:10 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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The United States has been one of the largest historical contributors to the climate change problem. Because of their past emissions (among other idustrialized countries), global warming will UNAVOIDABLY increase (IPCC's 4th report). Developing countries like Bolivia and Ecuador who did practically nothing to contribute to this problem will HAVE to foot the costs to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. This is worsened by the fact that these countries have the least capacity (resources) to adapt.

Financial support for adapting to climate change is NOT charity or a handout. It is based on the fundamental principles of international environmental law - the polluter must pay and there has to be differentiated responsibility based on the contribution to the problem and the ability to pay.

The US's recent announcement epitomizes everything that's wrong with the climate change international legal framework. There is nothing fair in the process.

Posted by: DEAndrade | April 14, 2010 6:38 PM
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Pity that Post reporter Juliet Eilperin did not put the $2.5 million in the context of the Yasuni-ITT Initiative. The German government has offered Ecuador $650 million to keep the oil underground in the Yasuni UN Biosphere. Unlike Obama in the US, the Correa government of Ecuador is exploring policies that promise long-term sustainability.
Joseph Henry Vogel, PhD
Professor of Economics, Unversity of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras
Author of "The Economics of the Yasuni Initiative: Climate Change as if Thermodynamics Mattered" (Anthem Press, 2009 and temporarily free online courtesy of the UNDP:

Posted by: josephvogel | April 12, 2010 3:23 PM
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While this is part of a game, the US needs to play its role. Politics and international relations are almost all about perception. If Bolivia and Ecuador want to play-act their independence, that is certainly their option. We don't have to underwrite it.

Posted by: thmas | April 12, 2010 12:20 AM
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Since many fair-minded people,given the facts, would likely admit that the Copenhagen Accord in and of itself lacks sufficient muscle to avert climate disaster, State's denial of funds to those who resist signing it seems dangerously arrogant. We needed wiser governance than that.

Posted by: hnpetrolia | April 12, 2010 12:11 AM
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Since many if not most among the well-informed would admit that there is substantial reason to find the Copenhagen Accord inadequate to protect the planet, State's refusal to deliver funds to Bolivia and Ecuador has an arrogant, even tyrannical ring to it.My way or the highway, lousy as it sounds, would be a more credible command if the "my way" weren't so eminently dangerous.

Posted by: hnpetrolia | April 11, 2010 11:55 PM
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Obama seems to be obsessed with extortion and bribery.

Posted by: pkhenry | April 11, 2010 2:19 AM
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Why would the U.S. pay other countries money as part of a climate accord.

You can't even begin to explain this in any sort of rational way. It seems like magic, fairy tales and ponies, not facts and thoughtfulness.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | April 10, 2010 4:10 PM
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From what i've seen lately it looks like its all about money and not climate change thats why the poor countries are so in to it,and it looks like every day some thing comes out to dispute climate change.

Posted by: samuellenn | April 10, 2010 9:07 AM
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This is absolutely the RIGHT decision by the State Dept. Yes, Bolivia and Ecuador might need help. But if their leaders are as blind and as corrupt as they are, then why throw taxpayer dollars down that rathole? If they want the $$, then they should join the Copenhagen Accord like 120 other countries have.

Posted by: Bugs222 | April 10, 2010 8:56 AM
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