Money Changes Everything

2015-12-07-17-08-06-DSCN0181I borrowed the title of my blog, “Money Changes Everything,” from a Cindy Lauper song. However, to more accurately describe the tone of the negotiations at Le Bourget, quoting a Pink Floyd song seems more appropriate. In the song “Money,” the band wrote, “Money get back, I’m alright, Jack, keep your hands off my stack.”

This seemed appropriate because the developed (wealthy) countries do not seem to be ready to jump in and commit to significant contributions for the establishment of funds to help developing countries in their battles with the effects of climate change. If money were no object, the negotiations would be moving along faster, with enough to go around to help all of the various groups here at COP21.

During our meetings today, we met with Laura Bishop, the Vice President of Public Affairs and Sustainability for Best Buy, who shared that their recycling program did not grow out of an excess of money. However, as their product manufacturing and recycling programs have evolved, Best Buy has found that going green has financial as well as environmental benefits; in fact, environmental sustainability can benefit the company, their employees, their customers and their shareholders.

From this discussion of U.S. businesses’ climate action, I headed over to an Indigenous Peoples presentation about the Dedicated Grant Mechanism (DGM), a UN program that allocates funds to help developing countries with forestry issues like deforestation. For the dozen plus countries currently involved with the DGM, eighty million dollars, the United Nations has allocated $80 million toward this program. In other words, each country that has applied and currently participates in the program receives about $5 million to work on their forest issues. In Indonesia, for example, forests are being cut down for palm oil production. The environment suffers as natural resources are consumed, erosion gets worse and damage to local streams kill fish, a key part of the protein needs for Indonesian Indigenous communities. The Indigenous People, represented by Iera Mino (see photo with me on left), who live in these areas cannot continue their way of life nor support themselves when such environmental damage is done to their home. Access to fresh water is also becoming a problem because of deforestation. Cutting down the forests for palm oil is not good for business or community health in these developing countries; money changes everything.

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