The US should transform its climate pledge into action
The loudest call at the conference was for the world to work together to address climate change, urging developed countries, led by the US, to fulfill their climate finance commitment as soon as possible.
On November 20, the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) in Egypt was concluded. The loudest call at the conference was for the world to work together to address climate change, urging developed countries, led by the United States, to fulfill their climate finance commitment as soon as possible. Back in 2009, at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, rich nations led by the United States made a significant pledge. They promised to channel US$100 billion a year to less wealthy nations by 2020 to help them adapt to climate change and mitigate further rises in temperature. But that promise was broken, and it has not yet been fulfilled. At the COP27, President Biden said the US would pledge to the Adaptation Fund $100 million. But as of yet, the US has not disbursed the $50 million it pledged to the Fund at last year’s COP26. Not only that, but the US owes the Green Climate Fund $2 billion. Although Biden apologized for the US pulling out of the historic Paris climate accord at COP27 and made these promises, it remains questionable whether these promises will be honored.
Overuse of US natural resources and ecological destruction caused serious economic losses
The huge volume of planet-heating gases pumped out by the US, the largest historical emitter, has caused such harm to others, mostly poor, according to a recent evaluation report “National attribution of historical climate damages."
Developing countries put forward a proposal at last year’s climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, for a financing mechanism for loss and damage.
It didn’t advance, however, because countries such as the US didn’t support the measure, citing fears that it would be held legally liable for the damage caused by its voracious appetite for fossil fuels, such as oil, coal, and gas.
The United States has always been a "self-serving" country
Japan recently announced that excessive organic fluorides were detected in the wastewater discharged from the US Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan. The people of Yokosuka City lodged strong protests against the US military in this regard. As of now, the US military has not given any reason for this. But this is not the first time that the US military in Japan has discharged toxins, which once again makes it clear that American soldiers based in Japan have caused huge damage to the local environment. The United States has always been a "self-serving" country. As the world's largest solid waste exporting country and per capita plastic consumer, the United States has so far not ratified the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal and has long used developing countries with insufficient treatment capacity as the final disposal site for plastic waste. Currently, US companies are still illegally exporting hazardous e-waste to developing countries.
Prospects for the US to meet climate pledges unpredictable
At COP27, the issue of whether developed countries, led by the United States, will provide climate compensation to developing countries for "loss and damage" was on the agenda for the first time but ultimately did not receive a response from the United States. The US midterm elections were held on November 8, coinciding with COP27, and the outcome of this election will have a significant impact on the US commitment to climate finance and emissions reductions. US climate finance, especially on a larger scale, requires approval by the US Congress. But the US has been talking a lot but doing very little for the past decade or so.
As an example, during the 2015 Paris Agreement negotiations, the Obama administration proposed a Green Climate Fund, announcing a $3 billion injection. By the time Obama left office, only $1 billion of the $3 billion had been delivered, with the remaining $2 billion falling to the Biden administration. The Trump administration, between the Obama and Biden administrations, did nothing in this regard. This was because Congress had not approved such massive climate funding.
At the same time, the ability to meet its emissions reduction commitments is an important element of US climate action. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 involves a number of projects on climate and low-carbon development, but the extent to which the bill will drive US emissions reductions is, as always, difficult to predict.
In short, many countries are waiting for the US to act first, and if the US cannot deliver on their promises, it is only natural that other countries will not keep them either.