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US must act responsibly to end climate injustice

US must act responsibly to end climate injustice

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SAHABAT Alam Malaysia (SAM) wishes to respond to the recent statement by the United States Ambassador to Malaysia Brian McFeeters ‘Partners in climate action’, that was featured in The Star on January 6.

While we agree with the ambassador that bold action to tackle climate change by everyone is more urgent than ever, the partnership for action among developed and developing countries is based on the fundamental principles of equity and “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” (CBDR-RC), recognised under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement.

These international agreements set out the commitments of developed countries to take the lead in emission reductions and to provide financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building to developing countries to enable them to implement their climate actions, including for emissions reductions, adaptation and to address loss and damage.

To enable developing countries to implement their climate actions in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, developed countries like the US must fulfil their commitments to the provision of financial resources, including to the existing dedicated climate fund under the UNFCCC, ie the green climate fund (GCF).

Under the Obama administration, the US pledged to provide US$3 billion (RM13 billion) to the GCF in the initial resource mobilisation period 2015-2018.

However, the final figure donated was only US$1 billion, as the Trump administration reneged on the pledge. This has affected the ability of the GCF to meet the many proposals in the fund’s pipeline for developing countries.

With the Biden administration in place since 2021, we have yet to see the US fulfil the Obama pledge to the GCF.

To compound matters further, the US has yet to make any contribution at all to the GCF’s first official replenishment period (2020 to 2023).

The ambassador extols the virtues of the Inflation Reduction Act of the US, which he says is providing US$370 billion “to solve the climate crisis” but these are for investments in the US only, and is not money for climate action in developing countries. 

The GCF is launching its next replenishment call, and if the US views itself as a true partner in climate action, then it has to meet its unfilled pledge of US$2 billion shortfall to the GCF on top of providing additional significant resources to the fund for the use by developing countries.

Moreover, at the UNFCCC’s COP26 in 2021, the US was the biggest blocker to the establishment of a finance facility to address loss and damage, like that faced by Pakistan, which saw devastating floods, affecting 33 million people and with damages and economic losses of more than US$30 billion.

It took massive efforts from civil society and developing country governments to move the US at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to get it to agree to a loss and damage fund, which hopefully this year at COP28 in Dubai, UAE, will be set up and will be resourced significantly.

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