U.S Senator Lindsey Graham has said the world should focus on environmental damage prevention rather than on climate reparations.
Kent Nishimura | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

The world should focus on environmental damage prevention rather than on climate reparations, U.S Senator Lindsey Graham said Friday, calling for approaches that integrate countries worldwide.

“Climate change is real. Let’s find rational solutions to the problem that are win-win,” Graham stressed during a panel moderated by CNBC’s Hadley Gamble on Friday, entitled  “Spotlight: Geopolitics of Carbon Border Adjustments.”

He added, “Let’s clean out the planet in a way that gets buy-in from a lot of different people. The idea of ESG [Environmental, Social and Governance investing], you know, paying climate reparations … is not going to be helpful.”

Countries have been pursuing initiatives to combat climate change through decarbonization, carbon capture and storage, as well as carbon offset schemes — which allow companies and governments to invest in environmental projects in order to balance out their emissions elsewhere. Voluntary carbon offset schemes have in the past come under fire for being insufficiently regulated, potentially undermining net-zero targets, and for the challenge in quantifying whether emissions have been fully compensated.

U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry in November revealed a new U.S. carbon offset plan, the Energy Transition Accelerator, which allows corporations to fund renewable energy projects in developing countries that are grappling with transitioning away from fossil fuels. Fossil fuel companies cannot participate in this program.

Graham underlined the need to focus on preventative action and to draft countries into green transition efforts.

“I think the best thing we do for the planet is come up with low-carbon technology sooner rather than later, get people like China and India, who are big emitters, to play,” he said, noting that carbon adjusted border fees could help towards this.

Climate action has been a key topic of the Munich Security Conference, especially in light of Russia’s role as a major oil and gas supplier prior to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse on Friday argued that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s behavior is “speeding the transition in Europe,” which lost access to seaborne imports of Moscow’s crude oil in early December and to its oil products deliveries in February.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Frans Timmermans said global warming posed one of the greatest risks to security worldwide and urged that efforts to limit its impact should not be derailed by other geopolitical crises, such as the war in Ukraine.

Speaking during the earlier “Geopolitics of Green Transition” panel on Friday, the European Commission’s climate chief urged that initiatives to rein in the impact of global warming should not be derailed by other geopolitical crises, such as the war in Ukraine.

“Climate is security, it’s the same thing,” said Frans Timmermans, executive vice-president for the European Green Deal and commissioner for climate action at the European Commission. He remarked that, without climate action, “there is no doubt in my mind that my kids, my grandkids will be fighting wars over water and food.”

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