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Participants at a side event at the UNFCCC COP18 climate change conference in Doha, Qatar.
Participants at a side event at the
climate change conference in Qatar.
We know now the ice sheet of Greenland is melting five times faster than 20 years ago. We know that Antarctica is losing twice as much ice in the west as it is gaining in the east. The World Bank has recently issued its frightening Turn Down the Heat report that says we're headed for a temperature increase of 4° C unless action is taken immediately. Insurance companies already are dealing with gigantic costs from the impact of climate change. And the Global Carbon Project CO2 has just reported that emissions rate grew again at 2.6 percent for 2011 and at an average 3.1 percent for the period 2001-2011. There's plenty more news where all that came from.

Meanwhile in Doha, Qatar, host of the 18th UN Climate Change Conference (COP18), the government ministers have just started arriving for a prodigious amount of work ahead. How much action will come out of Doha is anybody's guess. Lowered expectations mean that whatever successes occur will seem valuable even if the fierce urgency of now, ferocious I think it should be called at this stage, doesn't quite seem to have penetrated many of the political elites around the planet, although that may be changing.

One of the most contentious issues at Doha is providing money for the Green Climate Fund. That is designed to transfer money from the developed to the developing world so those less-affluent nations can adapt to and mitigate climate change impacts. GCF got started in Copenhagen at COP15 in 2009 and was launched in Durban, South Africa, at COP17. Objective: Raise $100 billion a year by 2020. Meanwhile, to get some projects off the ground well before then, GCF Fast Start Funding was approved for 2010-2012, to the tune of $30 billion. But, so far, the GCF is just an empty shell and only about $10 billion is being raised annually.

Dave Turnbull at The Price of Oil website has found that the world's affluent nations are putting five times as much money into the fossil-fuel subsidies as they are to the Green Climate Fund. And he's created a graphic to show how stark that is.

Chart showing fossil fuel subsidies vs. contributions to the Green Climate Fund by wealthy nations.
Click here for an image of the graphic you can enlarge. Data used to create it is here.

That's bad enough, But, as A Siegel points out, the actual "incentive" is far worse. That's because externalities—the health and environmental costs of mining and burning coal, for instance—are not included in these calculations.

As is well known, budgets are policy. They tell us what policymakers are really committed to. Despite all the talk emanating from 17 1/2 UN climate conferences, despite all the increasingly grim news about where we're headed and how much faster we seem to be headed there than was previously thought, that commitment has yet to appear.

Delay is denial.

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Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 03:41 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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