The USA has hit back at claims that it is trying to stack the board of a new climate fund by giving developed countries more seats than developed ones.
Campaigners at a crunch meeting in the Dominican Republic this week said the US proposal on how to divide the board of the new loss and damage fund “tilts power towards wealthy nations”.
But, in the meeting room of a five-star hotel in Santo Domingo, US government negotiator Christina Chan yesterday told these campaigners that they were wrong.
“From our math it is equal,” she said. “It is balanced, so if you’re feeling like it’s not, I don’t know, our math works out that it is.”
The board’s makeup
Chan is part of the transitional committee on loss and damage, which is working out the details of a new fund to address the costs of climate destruction.
A US proposal published this week said that the fund’s board should include ten members from the wealthy Western Europe and Others group, which includes North America, Australasia and Turkey and hosts about an eighth of the world’s population.
It adds that four seats should go to the biggest financial contributors to the fund. Chan said yesterday that “we’re not making assumptions of where those contributors are coming from”.
But as rich nations have the most money, are disproportionately historically responsible for the climate crisis and currently give the most climate finance, these four are expected to be wealthy nations like the US, Japan, France, Germany and the UK.
The US proposes that seven seats should go to the four regional groups which make up the rest of the world. These are mostly nations the UN defines as developing countries, with the exception of Japan and some Eastern European nations.
There should also be two seats each for small island developing states and the world’s poorest nations – known as Least Developed Countries.
Another four seats, the US suggests, should go to representatives of civil society, indigenous peoples, the private sector and philanthropy.
While Chan called this “balanced”, campaigners argue that it’s effectively at least 14 developed country members against a maximum of 11 developing countries.
Responding to Chan’s defence of this proposal, Climate Action Network campaigner Harjeet Singh told her: “On the question of contributors being given extra seats, from our perspective it’s a principle issue, it’s a moral issue. We do not even have a second thought who the primary contributors are. For us, it’s rich, developed countries.”
So if those four seats go to developed countries, Singh said “its lopsided”. He added: “We can not move away from historic responsibility. We need to recognise the reason we are facing loss and damage is because of actions and inaction over the last 30 years.”
In the same meeting, Liane Schalatek from the Heinrich Boll Foundation told Chan: “It’s not an equitable representation”.
She said it is a model borrowed from banks like the World Bank, where those that pay in get the biggest say.
But she said it is not appropriate for this fund because developed countries have a historic responsibility to deliver funding because of their outsized role in causing the loss and damage.
Avinash Persaud, a transitional committee member from the government of Barbados agreed with campaigners.
Referring to rich nations’ at least ten seats, he told Climate Home: “Developed countries are represented to that extent, not because of need nor population, but because they are a donor group, which makes sense.”
“But”, referring to the extra four seats for contributors, he added,” we can’t then add them in again as donors. That’s double counting”.