In Durban, the US needs to step up or step asideDecember 6th, 2011 | by Guest Blogger
This blog was written by climate change program manager David Waskow, who is now in Durban.
At major climate summits, there’s always a moment when uncertainty erupts.
We’ve now reached that moment at the climate summit in Durban, South Africa. And one of the key questions is what the United States will do. Will the US join with other countries and address the impacts on the vulnerable communities around the world that are already hardest hit by a changing climate—or will the US instead block that progress?
I was just reminded of how critical action is at an event here in Durban where the UN Secretary General highlighted an Oxfam America program in Ethiopia that enables the poorest farmers to access insurance and build their resilience during times when rainfall is low. Watching Silas Samson Biru, an Ethiopian farmer, talk about her experiences coping with incessant drought brought home why we need to take action.
Progress can be made here: for example, there is an excellent and innovative proposal on the table for how to raise significant resources from a carbon fee on the shipping industry and turn that money into funding for communities facing increasingly harsh weather events, such as storms and droughts.
Many countries have spoken out in favor of this approach, and it’s the one concrete option in the negotiating text that can generate resources to help poor communities like Silas’—while also cutting harmful emissions. Fourteen US Senators just sent a letter to Secretary of State Clinton about the Durban climate summit, including a statement supportive of generating financial resources from this kind of policy in the international transport sector.
But at this international climate summit, the US is resisting talking about any kind of specific sources of funding to tackle the climate challenge.
There are still several days left here. The US negotiators here have a choice to make: as Oxfam and several other groups said yesterday, it’s time for the US to step up or to step aside and let others move forward.