Wealthy countries agree to give poorer countries $100 billion

Smog in Los Angeles.

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: Scattered clouds and intermittent storms all week in Cancun, Mexico. Not quite what the tens of thousands of people in town for the U.N. climate conference were probably expecting. The more predictable forecast was all the usual indoor bluster. At the end of the first week of meetings, though, there does seem to be some agreement on one part of the climate conundrum: Who's going to pay to help poor countries cope.

From Cancun, Marketplace's Eve Troeh reports.


Eve Troeh: One hundred billion dollars. That's how much wealthy nations have agreed to pay poorer nations to reduce carbon pollution and fight problems they're already having due to climate change. A U.N. committee says it could raise $20 billion by taxing emissions on air travel and shipping.

Timothy Gore: There's a win-win to be had.

That's Timothy Gore with the nonprofit Oxfam. He says international air and shipping are not bound by current U.N. climate agreements. And they give off about 8 percent of yearly greenhouse gas emissions and growing.

Gore: You can address those emissions, but you can do it in a way which also raises finance, and a quite substantive finance.

Planes and boats are complicated to tax because they pollute as they cross national borders. That's one reason their emissions haven't been regulated globally.

But Nancy Young with the Air Transport Association says air and shipping haven't had a free pass. Other U.N. agencies already oversee them on climate change. And she says airlines have made big promises.

Nancy Young: From 2020, we've committed to carbon neutral growth, and an aspirational target of 50 percent reduction in our emissions by 2050.

You can see those goals on a huge billboard by the Cancun airport. Young says they'll cost a lot. Adding a new U.N. tax...

Young: Will really take away from our ability to invest in the very things that we're doing to improve our greenhouse gas emissions.

She says the tax would cost airlines up to $6 billion by 2020. The global airline industry is expected to earn about $9 billion in profits this year.

In Cancun, I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.

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