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Climate Aid at Whose Expense?

January 27, 2010

Bjorn Lomborg is not the only one concerned about “climate aid” to developing countries detracting from other important issues. Bill Gates has highlighted (PDF) international climate change policy as a possible factor in limiting aid for other problems associated with poverty and global health. As quoted on Pielke’s blog:

Deficits are not the only reason that aid budgets might change. Governments will also be increasing the money they spend to help reduce global warming. The final communiqué of the Copenhagen Summit, held last December, talks about mobilizing $10 billion per year in the next three years and $100 billion per year by 2020 for developing countries, which is over three quarters of all foreign aid now given by the richest countries.

I am concerned that some of this money will come from reducing other categories of foreign aid, especially health. If just 1 percent of the $100 billion goal came from vaccine funding, then 700,000 more children could die from preventable diseases.

As Pielke notes, Gates is a relatively new voice in debates on climate change issues, but he has some very smart things to say (see this very good, short article on energy policy). Many organizations would have you believe that action to address climate change and action to address other sustainable development are (or should be) one and the same. It’s nice to see that Gates operates under no such illusion.

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