Finance Action

7 December 2012

The causes and effects of the global climate storm are dispersed; there is fragmentation and institutional inadequacy. This is true of most global problems, but the factor that really complicates climate action is the spatial and temporal dimensions. The effects of greenhouse gases are not ‘hot spots’ at the source. They are in fact global and the effects are most brutal in areas where emissions are low.

We need to converge our moral and ethical values to tackle this vast problem. The youth organization SustainUS conducted a social experiment on Thursday at the QNCC to test this premise.

Youth representatives asked individuals entering the Conference where they would place their money, were it completely up to them: the Green Climate Fund, Fast Start Finance, Midterm Finance (2013-2020), Military Spending and Fossil Fuel Subsidies.

Each respondent received fake money at the start of the moving walkways from the garage to the QNCC and had to choose along the way where their currency would best be spent. Many dismissed the youth holding the Military Spending and Fossil Fuel Subsidies jars and split their ethical urges between the three climate change finance options. 

By the end of the event, the Green Climate Fund was the clear winner. The utilitarian calculus made on the moving walkways was in fact a choice to support those who are worst off.

The 1.2 billion people living on $1 per day stand to gain more from $100 than someone living on $100,000 a year. It seemed that this was a quick calculation in the participants’ minds when placed with a clear choice.
Yet according to a report by the National Resource Defense Council, fossil fuel subsidies in 2012 were $775 billion globally while the GCF remains at $0, the FSF total is way below $30 billion (even setting aside the ODA double-counting aspect), and no road map has been laid down for midterm finance between now and 2020, nor pledges made to start mobilizing funds for the GCF in the final days of Doha.

Climate change has posed a systemic difficulty for political actors that calls into question the very institutions that we use to fight for climate change, even as we ourselves, given the chance, make choices on behalf of the most vulnerable and the future of the planet. This small informal experiment shows how far we have to go to close the gigatonne and equity gaps.

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