U.S. puts hammer lock on Copenhagen balkers

Secretary Clinton announces the appointment of...

U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern. Image via Wikipedia

The United States is withholding climate-related aid to nations that do not endorse the Copenhagen Accord, leveraging its financial clout to force that beleaguered document to the forefront of efforts to halt global warming.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that the U.S. had decided to withhold aid from Bolivia and Ecuador, two vocal opponents of the Accord, but chief U.S. negotiator Todd Stern told the Post the decision was not categorical. It has since emerged that more nations have been threatened with aid cuts:

“What is happening now is not equitable. Very many of our countries are being told you know you’re not going to get money unless you sign onto this accord,” said Bernaditas de Castro Muller, negotiator for the G-77 group of 130 developing nations, during a side event in Bonn. UN delegates are meeting in Bonn ostensibly to further develop the Accord, although many participants continue to oppose it.

Of 193 nations that attended the Copenhagen Climate Talks in December, 122 have signed onto the Accord or promised to do so, but many have set conditions for their compliance. Those conditions, said de Castro Muller, are but one of the Accord’s weaknesses.

“I will give you one example,” she said. “Canada said they are going to restrict targets depending on what the U.S. Congress will do, and therefore we are sure that they are not going to do anything, practically.”

Developing nations want the UN to retain and extend the Kyoto Protocol, which contains binding commitments for developed nations and commits them to funding the efforts of developing nations. The U.S., which agreed to the Kyoto Protocol but never ratified it, prefers the non-binding agreement hammered out during the final push in Copenhagen.

“We view Copenhagen as a significant milestone,” U.S. negotiator Jonathan Pershing told delegates yesterday. “We believe that the accord should materially influence further negotiations. This was not a casual agreement.”

Pershing met opposition from China, which endorsed the Copenhagen Accord but prefers for negotiations to proceed under the Kyoto Protocol.

Bolivia’s request for $3million and Ecuador’s $2.5 million were cut from the $300 million US AID Climate Assistance Program, the Post reported.

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