Its not nothing to worry about – Nigel Thornton

In May Donald Trump promised to cancel US funding to UN programmes that fight climate change. He also said he wanted the US to opt out of the Paris Agreement. The President Elect reportedly tweeted in November 2012 “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive”.

There is now reporting that The Donald is likely to appoint a prominent climate change skeptic to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Myron Ebell. In 2007 Ebell said “There has been a little bit of warming … but it’s been very modest and well within the range for natural variability, and whether it’s caused by human beings or not, it’s nothing to worry about.”

In new Washington worldview, harmful climate change isn’t really happening.

Thankfully the UK fully recognises that Climate Change is something to worry about. The 2015 UK Aid Strategy characterises Climate Change as a ‘great global challenge’ that will affect the UK’s national interest. Whitehall sees that Climate Change is a ‘risk multiplier’ and a root cause of instability and insecurity.

And if there’s one country that knows about climate risks, its Bangladesh. I lived in Dhaka for 3 years and in 1998 experienced first hand the increasing severity of climate shocks.

Yesterday the Guardian ran a report that the Bangladesh Government was returning £13m of UK aid for Climate Change support. Given the UK’s commitment and Bangladesh’s needs, this might appear a little odd.  In fact, the return of the cash was entirely predictable.

On behalf of the Independent Commission on Aid Impact, in 2011 I led a team considering the UK’s climate change funding in Bangladesh. This included the subject of the Guardian report, The Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (BCCRF).

The 2011 ICAI report identified that the BCCRF suffered problems from the start. At issue was what were Bangladesh’s priorities.

Concerns focused on whether the World Bank, rather than the Government of Bangladesh, would be deciding what activities would be funded. DFID’s documentation indicates that this was never the plan, with the role of the World Bank always being that of administrative agent. Evidence from meetings and documents indicates that not everyone within the World Bank originally shared this vision.”

Critical to the weakness of the programme was that key decisions were being made by Bank staff at headquarters, not on the ground in Bangladesh.

Decision makers in Washington, we heard, didn’t really have enough knowledge.

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