Rachel Rose Jackson, Corporate Accountability Director of Climate Research & Policy, speaking on a press conference from the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice
This time last year, almost to the day, I sat in one of these chairs and stated that the United States is acting like a child bully in these negotiations. And now here we are, one year later. Yet the U.S.’ climate collaboration skills have not matured a day, let alone 365. And here we are, again talking about the U.S. government’s childish ways. But here’s the naked truth:
The children I know have never acted as poorly or pathetically as the United States is acting here at these Bonn climate talks. The children I know don’t break everything around them, smashing it to the ground no matter how much care (or how many decades) it took to build. The children I know don’t utilize dirty tricks to steal things out from under the nose of others. The children I know don’t make enemies of friends and seek to divide and conquer.
Do your children act like this?
Here’s a breakdown of what the U.S. has been up to as we near the close of these critical talks.
In the GST—or Global Stocktake. This is supposed to be an assessment meant to hold countries accountable to delivering the strongest possible climate plans in line with the Paris Agreement. But to the U.S., it might as well be the Global South Toasting, because that’s what will happen—the Global South will be roasted if the U.S. continues to erase the history of who caused climate change and refuses to even have a frank conversation about where and how climate action must be stronger, fairer, and more urgent.
In negotiations about NAPs—or National Adaptation Plans—which are meant to foster solidarity for developing countries to have the capacity to implement plans to respond to the impacts of climate change. To the U.S., this is about Nullifying Actions & Promises, as they are twisting facts to downplay the need for climate finance or support, and refusing to allow text that would formalize the need for more concrete conversation about how this need can become reality.
On the GGA—or Global Goal on Adaptation—this is part of the Paris Agreement that is supposed to advance collaboration to strengthen the resilience of and minimize vulnerabilities to climate change in developing countries. To the U.S., it’s about Grotesquely Gutting Action—blocking absolutely any meaningful outcome that would advance this essential pathway.
The JTWP—or Just Transition Work Program—should be focused on pathways for keeping global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius. If you ask the U.S., it’s about Just Totally Wasting and Plundering—refusing to acknowledge that developed countries need to start taking action to address climate change. And won’t even acknowledge that a Just Transition is going to require finance to make it happen.
Agenda item by agenda item, the U.S. is trying to renegotiate the Paris Agreement by ripping out text that refers to equity and fairness, by taking away any urgency behind to act, and by disregarding their moral, ethical, and historical responsibility to lead.
This is just a sprinkle of all the destruction the U.S. is up to here. Walk into any negotiating room, and you’ll see this blatant badgering unfolding. Lest we all forget, though, this is an administration that recently insisted back home that “we are way off track right now. In fact we’re heading toward 2.5, perhaps 3 degrees. So folks have a real reason to be deeply agitated and concerned about what we’re doing.” It’s currently projecting the largest fossil fuel expansion of any country in the world. It approved the $8 billion Willow project. And the top six U.S. banks financed $445 billion to the top 100 companies expanding in oil, gas, and coal globally since the Paris climate agreements. Hypocrisy? Well, this is what the U.S. does. It’s textbook dirty diplomacy.
The U.S. is brazen enough to come here acting like its poisoned crumbs of climate action are charity, the implication being that developing countries should be grateful for anything they are lucky enough to get. But let’s not forget, climate action and climate finance is not aid. In the case of the United States, which is singularly responsible for over 1/4 of emissions, it’s climate DEBT. Meaning this finance, this collaboration, and this action is owed, and overdue, and the U.S. is in significant default and arrears.
In the world I live in, if you break it, you buy it. If you steal it, you replace it. And if you destroy it, you must rebuild it. But not if you are the United States of America.
This dirty diplomacy is not just the backhanded trickery of the U.S. They are the ringleader in a gang of Global North governments that think they can use dirty diplomacy to send the halls of climate action crashing to the ground. These governments include the EU, U.K, and other Global North countries, who are all trying to orchestrate yet another great escape from having to clean up the mess they have made.
But this has to end now. Why?
Because one year ago today, floods in Pakistan wreaked destruction that killed nearly more than 1700 people, displaced 7 million, and caused at least 30 billion dollars in damage. Because as I speak, Canada is experiencing the worst wildfire season of the century—more than 20,000 displaced and millions breathing toxic air. Because extreme weather events have caused more than 2 million deaths and more than 4 trillion dollars in economic losses. And because it is the only way we avoid billions more being displaced and millions more dying.
The U.S. must act. We cannot escape the climate crisis, people on the frontlines cannot escape the climate crisis, and we are here to say—neither can the United States of America and its gang of climate blockers.