How this climate change fund could fuel populism in richer nations


Published November 21, 2022

The Washington Post

The announcement that climate negotiators at COP27 have agreed to establish a global fund to compensate poorer nations for damage wrought by climate change was hailed as a major accomplishment by climate activists. It might instead prove a major boost to anti-green populist parties worldwide.

The rationale for a “loss and damage” fund is straightforward. Developed nations caused planetary warming by emitting greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere for more than a century. Those emissions, aided by the continuing rise in global carbon emissions, are causing sea level rise and worsening floods and intensifying other natural disasters in countries that do not have the resources to repair the damage. The parties primarily responsible for the losses, therefore, will bond together to pay for their repair.

Sounds great. But consider the potential cost.

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Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, studies and provides commentary on American politics. His work focuses on how America’s political order is being upended by populist challenges, from the left and the right. He also studies populism’s impact in other democracies in the developed world.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash


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