Biden Agrees to Pay Climate Reparations, But World's Biggest Polluter, China, Won't Have to Pay

Hans Bader | November 23, 2022 | 10:26am EST
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President Biden has agreed to pay climate reparations to third world countries, many of them run by corrupt dictators who siphon off foreign aid for their own benefit.

The Associated Press reports that the "U.S. will pay up to $1 billion to compensate developing countries for global warming -- but gas-guzzling China" -- the world's biggest polluter -- "WON'T have to pay into global fund."

"The fund, negotiated at the UN's COP27 Summit, was originally known as a 'loss and damage' fund and had been blocked by previous administrations."

The countries that would receive reparations are mostly in  Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Many of these countries have already received billions of dollars in U.S. foreign aid, as either economic or humanitarian assistance, in the past.

The London Daily Mail reports:

"Last year, Biden was granted $1 billion to help developing countries tackle climate change, although it's unclear if that cash will go into this fund. The president also faces having his plans stymied by the GOP-majority House, which would have to approve any funding mooted by the White House. There will be wrangles with fellow UN members over who pays what -- which could well mean nothing gets done until after the next presidential election in 2024.

"And if a Republican like GOP golden boy Ron DeSantis ends up winning the presidency, the fund could face being scrapped again. Donald Trump famously pulled the US out of the 2015 UN Paris Accord on climate change, saying it represented a bad deal for America -- with DeSantis known to share many of the 45th president's views.

"China -- the world's biggest polluter -- wouldn't have to contribute to any global fund, because it is still considered a developing nation, despite its vast wealth.... Rich countries, including the United States and those in Europe, have for decades resisted the idea of a so-called loss and damage fund for fear it would open them up to legal liability for their historic greenhouse gas emissions. Chinese climate envoy Xie Zhenhua welcomed Saturday the resumption of formal talks with US counterpart John Kerry as 'very constructive,' as the world's two top polluters ended a freeze in cooperation."

Third-world litigants will point to this agreement to say they are entitled to compensation for billions or trillions more under "customary international law." They will use this concession to try to sue American businesses or the U.S. for vastly more money than Biden has agreed to pay, based on the idea that the U.S. has now admitted it and its citizens are at fault.

International tribunals and "human rights" bodies sometimes issue rulings based on “customary international law,” vague principles based on the international “consensus” of enlightened people across the globe.

Any reparations paid by American taxpayers will be wasted if it goes to some of these third world countries. This aid would be paid as reparations without any corresponding need by recipient nations to reform themselves and stop oppressing their people and stifling economic activity in ways that worsen environmental harm.

(Environmental harm often results from bad economic policies that keep people in poverty and promote deforestation, as one can see from comparing Haiti and its neighbor, the Dominican Republic. Impoverished Haiti has widespread soil erosion, while more economically-advanced Dominican Republic does not).

Economics professors like William Easterly have long found that U.S. foreign aid backfires when it is not tied to free-market reforms or governments abiding by the rule of law.

As PBS notes,

"William Easterly has warned for years that giving foreign aid to dictators was a bad idea. Easterly, a professor of economics at New York University, says that when we turn a blind eye to human rights violations we are propping up oppressors. Foreign aid is also used as a political tool to avoid taking in refugees, Easterly said.... Much of what Easterly talked about in Princeton is expanded on in his book The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor."

Foreign aid can prop up and strengthen foreign dictators and thus enable them to plunder their people even more. America gave billions of dollars in aid to the second largest country in Africa, the Congo. The country's, kleptocratic ruler, Mobutu Sese Seko, pocketed much of the money, using it to live in obscene luxury while most children in his country's capital suffered from severe malnutrition and the roads literally fell apart.

He would fly the Concorde to Paris for luxury shopping, and put billions of dollars in foreign aid money into Swiss bank accounts. Under his rule, his country stopped being self-sufficient in food, and many of its people became hungry and jobless after he confiscated and ruined foreign-owned businesses.

Yet Mobutu was propped up by aid from the U.S. and Communist China. He left behind a country so internally rotted that it had a civil war in its east where six million people died in mass killings and starvation.

The foreign aid made it difficult for people in the Congo to get rid of their oppressive and unpopular dictator. As one Congolese man noted to a Washington Post reporter, when U.S. President Jimmy Carter was giving the Congo lots of aid, "We are suffering here, and it is because of the Americans.... We cannot change the government, because you support Mobutu" through American aid.

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