Errant European

Large sums promised to developing countries to help them tackle climate change cannot be accounted for, a BBC investigation has found. Rich countries pledged $410m (£247m) a year in a 2001 declaration – but it is now unclear whether the money was paid. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has accused industrialised countries of failing to keep their promise. The EU says the money was paid out in bilateral deals, but admits it cannot provide data to prove it.

BBC News, 25 November 2009

I’ve said it before: these international conferences where billions are pledged but little accounting is

performed, are perfect for countries and leaders who are notorious for not putting their money where their mouths are. Unless the UN or the BBC tries to add up the pledges and match them with actual bank transfers, no one is keeping tabs on converting the high rhetoric into ready cash.

So why not create not one, but two “Pledging Czars?” Ever since Russia gave up its czars and czarinas, it’s the US that has created generations of them: drug czars, war-on-terror czars, bailout czars. George W. Bush even had a “reading czar” (check out Wikipedia for a full list).

The industrialised countries need to have one, but so that he or she does not fall under the sway of the deadbeat pledgers, let’s create another czarina from among the recipient nations. Checks and balances.

The BBC-UN report on shortfalls in climate change funding for developing nations is extremely timely, coming as it has weeks before Copenhagen. No point in pious pronouncements prior to Christmas if previous Christmas prezzies have gone undelivered.

Brussels-based Gerald Loftus also publishes the blog Avuncular American.

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