The COP27 climate summit hosted by the Egyptian government concluded on November 20 with a hard-fought agreement to compensate countries that are most vulnerable to climate disasters. Before the ink was even dry on this landmark “loss and damage” deal (considered a step forward in both acknowledging and addressing global climate injustices), Fox News personalities and guests began attacking it.
As the conference concluded on Sunday, Fox News turned its attention to attacking climate reparations. Fox & Friends Sunday co-host Pete Hegseth described the fund as a “sin tax,” saying, “Ultimately, it's self-loathing. It’s the belief that the West's success was premised on pollution, so now it's our turn to pay developing countries … because we built the world based on their backs.” On The Big Sunday Show, Fox contributor Sean Duffy bizarrely criticized the fund because it doesn’t allow recipients to use the allocations to invest in fossil fuels.
Since Sunday, at least 9 programs on the network have discussed climate reparations. Much of the coverage is largely in line with the lines of attack we predicted from right-wing media ahead of the conference. It consisted of misleading attacks suggesting that these payments would hurt the U.S. economy and further empower China; represent a form of wealth redistribution; or are unfair to the recipients because they can’t use the funds to develop fossil fuels.
What is loss and damage financing and why it matters
After 30 years of pressure from developing nations, world leaders agreed to create a new fund through which rich countries will help pay for vulnerable countries to recover from climate-fueled disasters. The concept, known as loss and damage or climate reparations, was a point of contention at COP27 specifically among richer countries like the United States. However, the U.S., among other nations, has agreed to contribute to the fund while not accepting any liability for loss and damage caused by climate change.
G20 countries, which represent about 80% of global economic output, are also responsible for about 75% of toxic greenhouse gas pollution. Yet small and poorer countries, particularly island nations, bear the brunt of those impacts in the form of drought, sea-level rise, and other disasters resulting in enormous economic losses. The African Development Bank estimates that the continent has already lost between 5-15% of its GDP growth due to climate impacts. Climate-fueled flooding in Pakistan that killed more than 1,000 people and displaced or otherwise affected more than 30 million this summer gave urgency to loss and damage negotiations this year. In a September segment on CNN’s New Day, correspondent Clarissa Ward reported on the flooding and the comments from United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on the need for climate reparations for these types of climate disasters, while noting that Pakistan emits less than 1% of global emissions but suffers disproportionate harm from climate impacts such as flooding.
However, almost none of the details of the fund, such as which countries will contribute, who exactly will get the money, and how much will be offered up, have been discussed. The U.S. and the European Union are pushing to ensure that China would not benefit from the funding and that it would eventually have to contribute, though it is defined by the U.N. as a developing nation. China’s position as the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter may throw that label into question with regard to this particular fund in the coming months. The country has voiced its opposition to being treated like a developed nation.
Despite the importance of this historic agreement, Fox has wasted no time in demonizing the fund and using the deal to discredit global action on climate change:
- On Gutfeld, Fox News contributor Michele Tafoya said: “These reparations are stupid…it’s all like this massive virtue signal.” She added, “I hate the U.N.” Host Greg Gutfeld said that there’s “no science behind it.” [Fox News, Gutfeld!, 11/22/22]
- On The Falkner Focus, Fox & Friends Weekends host Will Cain said that climate reparations are “virtue signaling,” which he claims is the biggest, “fraud perpetrated not just on society but to individuals,” in addition to comparing the loss and damage agreement to “FTX and Sam Bankman-Fried.” He also falsely claimed that China will, “get money from this global reparations tax while emitting more carbon than anybody on Earth.” [Fox News, The Falkner Focus, 11/22/22]
- On The Ingraham Angle, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) said: “To pay for the weather, bad weather, in foreign countries out of the pocketbooks of hard-working Americans might be the most insane thing I've ever seen.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 11/21/22]
- The Ingraham Angle host Laura Ingraham grouped climate reparations in with “vaccine passports, climate reparations, tracking people’s movements, and taking away their basic freedoms, basically signing everything off to China and the WHO." [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 11/21/22]
- Fox News host Tucker Carlson incorrectly said: “The country that seems almost determined to destroy the planet, that would be China, is exempted from the reparations.” Echoing past segments that fearmonger about the implementation of green energy policies, he started the segment saying, “Fossil fuels are the reason we have civilization. Take them away and countries collapse.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 11/21/22]
- Fox News contributor Victor Davis Hanson told Carlson that problems developing nations are facing are “not climate change.” He claimed that climate reparations are, “a very cheap way of having a transnational body to pick victims and victimizers.” Taking advantage of unmoored right-wing panic about socialism, he contended that these bodies would be, “staffed eventually by people like Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba. … You know what that’s going to lead to.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 11/21/22]
- Fox News host Jesse Watters said the U.S. should not have to pay climate reparations because “we industrialized first.” He complained that the European Union should not have put pressure on the U.S. to agree to a deal, saying, “How many world wars have we bailed the Europeans out of? And then they go shiv us in the kidneys?” Finally, he said that the U.S. should not help Pakistan recover from catastrophic flooding because “they kept Bin Laden there for a decade.” [Fox News, The Five, 11/21/22]
- Fox News contributor and Wall Street Journal editor-at-large Gerry Baker said that the proven impacts of climate change on extreme weather events are “highly debatable,” so the damage that poor countries face is not the responsibility of developed nations. He said that developing countries are “benefitting from the industrialization we did” and because of that, “we don't owe them anything.” [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 11/21/22]
- Duffy suggests that the funds will lock poorer countries into poverty: “Energy equals prosperity and they’re going to have strings attached to this money going to poorer countries. And when you do that, they’re going to make sure that they don't have, you know, coal and natural gas and oil which means they can't develop. They can't grow their economy so they’re going to continue to remain poor. This does not help them, it hurts them.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 11/21/22]
- Fossil fuel shill and Fox News regular Marc Thiessen said on America’s Newsroom: “If anyone owes poor countries anything it's the climate extremists,” He went on to claim that climate activists, “will do far more damage to their economies, to their GDP, to their prosperity than anything that climate change could possibly do.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 11/21/22]
- Fossil fuel ally and frequent Fox guest Bjorn Lomborg said that “what this fund is really about is to try to pay these countries to not develop.” He added that this would be “the worst possible outcome because that basically leaves them in poverty.” Lomborg even went so far as to blame catastrophic flooding in Pakistan on the fact that “they’re poor,” while at the same time asserting that we should not give the country “handouts.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/21/22]