The following statement was delivered by Rachel Rose Jackson, director of climate research & policy at Corporate Accountability during the Bonn Climate Change Conference on June 15, 2022.
As the people, we have an obligation to make sure that the world knows what is happening here in Bonn, and to ensure that the injustice unfolding before our eyes does not remain in a bubble. If countries are not acting, we must. If wrongdoing is happening, we must say so. And so we must speak out and speak up.
Here is the truth of what’s happened here.
To put it bluntly, the United States is acting like a child bully who harasses other kids on the playground – breaking their toys, pushing them off the swings, spitting on them – all while sheepishly insisting to the teacher that they are innocent and it is the other children’s fault.
Except, of course, this isn’t a playground. This is a planet that is crossing environmental tipping points at a rate even scientists did not expect and that may soon no longer be able to sustain life. It’s a planet full of people whose homelands are drowning, whose families are dying.
These are not toys being broken, but lives being lost – millions of them. Why? So the United States can hoard the wealth it has made off the backs of those in the Global South. So that polluters can continue to profit off of a crisis that is killing us. How can a dollar be worth a life?
This is not a child, but the wealthiest country on the planet, with more than enough resources at its disposal. It’s also the country that has historically contributed the most to climate change, so it has a responsibility to be a climate champion, not a climate bully.
In Paris, the U.S. already worked to make the Paris Agreement as weak as possible. Here in Bonn, it is lighting it on fire. Here’s what U.S. bullying (its classic form of international diplomacy) has looked like over the past two weeks:
On Loss and Damage finance, the U.S. has:
- Rejected any position that would do more than “acknowledge” the gap to address Loss and Damage (L&D)
- Blocked effective operationalization of the Santiago Network on L&D
On Article 6.8, the U.S. has:
- Insisted that using Article 6.8 on international collaboration on non-market approaches to actually collaborate on non-market approaches is outside the scope of what the Paris Agreement calls for.
On climate finance, the U.S. has:
- Failed to provide the full amount it initially promised to the GCF, let alone the additional annual finance that governments acknowledged would be needed.
- Obstructed, obstructed, obstructed – no matter the agenda item.
We have questions for the U.S., and we want clear answers:
- Were you behind the mysterious rejection of the LMDC proposal backed by the G77 and China at the start of these talks to put L&D finance formally on the agenda?
- How can you co-facilitate the Glasgow Dialogue and insist to truly be impartial, when year after year you have been the loudest blocker of L&D finance?
- How can you acknowledge a finance gap on L&D yet fail to do anything to fill that gap?
To other countries that ally themselves with the U.S., ever ready to contribute to this elitist, neocolonial agenda: know that we have witnessed what is happening here. To the EU, Australia, Norway, Canada: the U.S. is a toxic actor in these talks. Anyone who associates with them, or does their dirty work, is poisoned by association. Are you climate champions? Or are you climate bullies?
We cannot stand by idly while the U.S. makes a mockery of the millions of lives and livelihoods that are already being lost – some even in its own backyard, in communities of color, indigenous communities, and underprivileged communities. So the U.S. is not only demonstrating that it does not value the lives of those in the Global South, it is also revealing its lack of care for those at home.
Thanks to this obstruction by the U.S., not to mention the EU and rest of the Global North, we now have a rocky road to COP27. The battle to deliver the needed climate action and equity is our Everest, but we are determined because we know we cannot fail. The people will be and already are our own climate champions.
We will fight for the real solutions we need and that we have at the ready. We will kick out the polluters that have suffocated ambition at these talks. We will demand the U.S. and Global North countries do their fair share and pay their climate debt. We won’t stop demanding this – not for COP27, not ever.