3 min read

The Foregone Conclusion of the COP28 Cop-Out

Anyone who's worked on a team knows full well the reason governments are doomed to fail. Might us citizens also have the solution?
Row upon row of people sitting in crowded bleachers
Members of the drafting sub-committee prepare for Day 17 of the global stocktake revisionsCOP28

Greetings friends!

For the 28th time since the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change came together in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, representatives of 190 countries are meeting to once again utterly fail to make any headway in the global climate crisis. 

If you’ve ever had to write a memo by committee, you’ll immediately grasp why.

No stranger to thunderstorms himself, Benjamin Franklin must have been anticipating the UN climate follies when he said “Three may write a memo together, if two are dead.”

Can you even imagine what it must be like writing a statement that all 190 governments must individually agree to? 

I can, because I have had a taste of it. 

Model UN — just like the real thing

I went to high school in The Hague, Holland. Each year our school organized something called Model UN. We hosted thousands of students from all over the world, who came together and formed country representations. 

It’s just like the real UN. Nowhere is this more evident than in the resolutions delegations submit to the assembly and seek to have passed. 

What begin as clear, strong statements outlining definitive positions devolve through successive rounds of watering down to the least common denominator into incomprehensible gobbledygook. 

The only way to craft a statement that everyone supports is for it to be so toothless as to make your 96-year-old grandma without her dentures look positively feral. 

Grandma, slowly tiring of the hope that her children will grow up | Image Grandpa

It always comes down to money: enter the Climate Fund

Even before the Rio boondoggle, The Alliance of Small Island States (it’s real, check it out) called for rich countries to pay for the “financial burden of loss and damage” from climate change. 

More than 30 years later, these calls are becoming more strident. Pakistan’s climate change minister last year made developing countries’ position clear:

We have to go round the world with a begging bowl for something that is our right. Justice means that those countries which caused global warming must pay. — Sherry Rehman

The International Monetary Fund has kindly estimated how much money developing countries will need to respond to climate change: $2 trillion. Per year. Every year. 

Okay, then, moving on. 

But seriously, delegates to this year’s CON28 believe they have cracked it. A multi-trillion fund seems in reach, for the first time ever. That is, assuming the largest expected contributor (the United States) obtains some minor clarifying language.*

Can we afford to wait for our governments to act?

If history is any guide, most certainly not. It’s time for action. And not just tiny fist-shaking teenagers or empty gestures like gluing oneself to a road. 

Governments get their money from us, their taxpayers (well, some of us, anyway). Why not short-circuit their inefficiency and corruption and create the needed funding ourselves? 

We shall call it the Save our Climate with All the Money, or SCAM fund.

I propose we use exactly the same language for our fund as the CRAP28 delegates end up with. So long as it contains the aforementioned all-important clarification.*

We have already received some incredible pledges to the SCAM fund:

  • Elon Musk — All of X's profits [ed. note: assumed to be zero, but we appreciate the signal, Elon]
  • Dr. Jill Biden — 100 billion dollars, “Just to start things off with a bang, my dears. I won’t be here to benefit from it, but I’d do anything to ensure the earth is here for my six grandchildren.”
  • Hunter Biden— “Hey, wait a minute. I’ve been scrubbing your bunions with a loofah every week for five years and this is how you repay me?”
  • James Bellerjeau — 10 trillion dollars, “We’ll never get anything done without bold action!” [ed. note: shaking his non-tiny fist]

The world needs you. The SCAM fund needs you. Make your pledge today!

Be well. 

* The clarifying language the U.S. requested is that all contributions are completely voluntary. Whew!

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