The $100 Billion-Per-Year Omission from the IPCC

by Greg Pollowitz

When the IPCC’s latest report was released yesterday, it basically came in three parts:, the “press kit,” the 44-page “Summary for Policymakers,” and the 2,500-plus-page “Final Draft.” 

And the IPCC left out a pretty major detail, a $100-billion-per-year detail, from the press package and their summary. From the New York Times:

The poorest people in the world, who have had virtually nothing to do with causing global warming, will be high on the list of victims as climatic disruptions intensify, the report said. It cited a World Bank estimate that poor countries need as much as $100 billion a year to try to offset the effects of climate change; they are now getting, at best, a few billion dollars a year in such aid from rich countries.

The $100 billion figure, though included in the 2,500-page main report, was removed from a 48-page executive summary to be read by the world’s top political leaders. It was among the most significant changes made as the summary underwent final review during a dayslong editing session in Yokohama.

The edit came after several rich countries, including the United States, raised questions about the language, according to several people who were in the room at the time but did not wish to be identified because the negotiations are private.

The language is contentious because poor countries are expected to renew their demand for aid this September in New York at a summit meeting of world leaders, who will attempt to make headway on a new treaty to limit greenhouse gases.

Many rich countries argue that $100 billion a year is an unrealistic demand; it would essentially require them to double their budgets for foreign aid, at a time of economic distress at home. That argument has fed a rising sense of outrage among the leaders of poor countries, who feel their people are paying the price for decades of profligate Western consumption.

As I wrote yesterday, the summary specifically stated the importance of alleviating poverty around the globe, but never mentioned anything about how to do this or the amount needed. Now we know why: their science might be settled, but who pays and for what is not.