The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns issued the following statement on September 23, 2021, in response to President Biden's recent announcements regarding climate finance and vaccine equity.
September 23, 2021
During President Joe Biden’s speech at the United Nations’ General Assembly on September 21, he announced plans to double the United States’ bilateral climate finance pledge made in April 2021 from $5.7 billion to $11.4 billion by 2024. The next day, the president also announced new commitments to the U.S. global COVID-19 response during the Global COVID-19 Summit convened by the White House on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
In response to the new international climate finance pledge, Chloe Noel, Faith Economy Ecology Project Coordinator, said:
“We welcome President Biden’s pledge to increase climate finance to $11.4 billion by 2024. This is the level of commitment we have been asking for from the United States. It is a big step forward toward the global goal of $100 billion a year in climate finance ahead of COP26 in Scotland. That level of climate finance will provide a lifeline for low- and middle-income countries to transition their economies and respond to the climate emergency. But we know that the world still falls short of the $100 billion goal and that much more finance will be needed in the years and decades ahead. It will take a collective global effort to achieve it.
“Based on the lived experience of Maryknoll missioners and our partners around the world, we know that climate change falls hardest on impoverished communities in low-income countries. Climate vulnerable areas are only increasing by the day as meaningful climate action is delayed. We have a particular moral responsibility to the countries and populations who have contributed the least but experience the greatest harm.
“In this regard, we urge the Biden administration and Congress to rebalance the funding so that at least half of it goes towards climate adaptation. Adaptation finance is necessary for climate vulnerable communities to construct more resilient food and water systems and infrastructure to withstand sea level rise, severe drought, and hurricanes.
“We look to Congress to work with the Biden administration to deliver this funding for the sake of the global common good and future generations. Congress can start by approving $3.3 billion in climate finance in the FY22 budget.”
In response to new commitments to global vaccine access at the COVID Summit convened by the White House, Susan Gunn, director, remarked:
“The global COVID summit presented an important opportunity for world leaders to get serious about ending the pandemic. We affirm the Biden administration’s goals of vaccinating 70 percent of the world’s population by September 2022; increasing the dire supplies of oxygen, vaccines, testing and treatments; and commitments to prevent future pandemics. But we know that charity without justice will not end the pandemic. We agree with President Joe Biden’s comments during his speech at the United Nations’ General Assembly when he said, ‘Bombs and bullets cannot defend against COVID-19 or its future variants.’ We need production and patent waivers to meet the scale of demand. Unfortunately, easing intellectual property barriers for increased and timely production of vaccines and other supplies was not on the agenda.
“We urge world leaders to support a TRIPS waiver at the WTO and other efforts to reduce intellectual property barriers, to share technology so that more countries have the know-how to produce vaccines and other supplies necessary to contain COVID-19, and to invest in manufacturing capacity in developing countries to produce sufficient supplies to end the pandemic.
“Maryknoll missioners served the sick through the darkest days of the AIDS crisis and they continue to serve communities impacted by the current pandemic. They have witnessed not only the loss of life from the virus, but also the social impacts of pandemic restrictions on civil liberties and development indicators. Based on the lived experience of Maryknoll missioners, we know that a scaled up, holistic approach is essential to truly end the COVID-19 health pandemic. World leaders must stand up to the pharmaceutical industry to unlock the tools and know-how to end the pandemic and prevent further loss of life and rollbacks of development gains made over the past 30 years.”