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First Shot In U.S. Climate War Against Developing Nations

The US State Department is denying climate change assistance to countries opposing the Copenhagen accord, it emerged today.

The new policy, first reported by The Washington Post, suggests the Obama administration is ready to play hardball, using aid as well as diplomacy, to bring developing countries into conformity with its efforts to reach an international deal to tackle global warming.

The Post reported today that Bolivia and Ecuador would now be denied aid after both countries opposed the accord. The accord is the short document that emerged from the chaos of the Copenhagen climate change summit and is now supported by 110 of the 192 nations that are members of the UN climate change convention.

“There’s funding that was agreed to as part of the Copenhagen accord, and as a general matter, the US is going to use its funds to go to countries that have indicated an interest to be part of the accord,” the state department envoy, Todd Stern, told the Washington Post. He said the decision was not “categorical”, suggesting that other countries that opposed the accord could still get aid. Bolivia had originally been in line for $3m (£1.95m) in climate assistance and Ecuador for $2.5m under the State Department’s original request to Congress for international climate aid, the Post reported.

Environmental organisations in Washington said they had been briefed that the State Department was contemplating such a step. According to their understanding, the Obama administration sees the Copenhagen accord and the promise of $30bn in climate aid for poor countries as combined package. Countries that oppose the deal, therefore, do not qualify for such funds.

However, Alden Meyer, the climate change director for the Union of Concerned Scientists, warned that such a policy risked further inflaming the tensions between the industrialised world and developing countries that have been a major obstacle to getting a deal.

They are playing a pretty hard line,” he said. “But it has the potential to be a counterproductive strategy. To cut off adaptation aid to countries suffering the impacts of climate change that are largely the result of past emissions from the US and other industrial countries risks making them look like the bad guys in a morality play. It is not a strategy that is going to play well in the developing world.”

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