The U.S. Is Still Blocking Climate Progress – The New Republic

Posted: November 17, 2021 at 1:20 pm

Not so long ago, a different state of play in the U.N. looked possible. The U.N. exploded in size in the middle of the twentieth century, from a 51-nation founding membership to 138 by the mid-1970s,as countries fought for and won their independence.Those newly freed states accordingly saw the U.N. as a venue for planetary justice, given the General Assemblys potential to put freed colonies on equal footing with their colonizers. Amlcar Cabral, the postcolonial theorist and assassinated leader of the Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde, referred to the U.N. as a giant with its hands tied. If its institutions were democratized and its voice strengthened to include these hundreds of millions of human beings, he argued, it may fully serve the noble cause of freedom, fraternity, progress, and happiness for mankind. The G77 plus Chinaa still forceful, if divided, bloc of 134 countrieswas formed in 1964 in part to make that vision a reality.

A U.N. designed in the spirit that Cabral hopedas a platform for the majority of the world to have a proportionate say over its governancemight well also have already taken on the climate crisis. Hopes for such an institution were snuffed out, though, as plans for it were felled by (among other factors) an oil shock that made it easier for the U.S. to fracture solidarity among developing nations of the self-described Third World, who found themselves paying more for fossil fuels and U.S. dollars. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the liberal senator who argued Black communities suffer from a culture of poverty and who served as ambassador to India, warned that the U.S. neededto take a more aggressive stance within a U.N. teeming with a multiracial group of Communists and socialists. Among his biggest fears was that the U.S. might be forced to make some kind of material commitments to the U.N.s new majority. America, he thought,might even find its easy access to key resources controlled by the people who governed the countries where those resources came from, as outlined by the New International Economic Order endorsed by the General Assembly in 1974. Avast majority of the nations of the world, he wrote in response to events that year,feel there are claims which can be made on the wealth of individual nations that are both considerable and threateningin any event threatening to countries such as the United States, which regularly finds itself in a minority (often a minority of one or two or at most a half-dozen) in an assembly of 138 members.

He summed up his antidote to that succinctly in an interview the same year with The New York Times: It is time for the United States to go into the United Nations and every other international forum and start raising hell. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger adopted a similar stance. We can resist confrontation and rhetorical attacks if other nations choose that path, he said. And we can ignore unrealistic demands and peremptory demands.

That history seemed to come to life at the COP26 climate summit. Kicking off the talks, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley called on wealthy countries to use the enormous power of their central banks to finance bonds for the energy transition, and support a $500 billion extension of IMF Special Drawing Rights. Our world, my friends, stands at a fork in the roadone no less significant than when the United Nations was formed in 1945, Mottley said. But then, the majority of our countries here did not exist. We exist now. The difference is, we want to exist one hundred years from now.

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The U.S. Is Still Blocking Climate Progress - The New Republic

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