A bill working its way through the Massachusetts state legislature would allow residents to contribute to a UN fund for climate-vulnerable countries when filing their tax returns.
Bay State taxpayers currently have the option to direct a part of the refund to one of several state programs. The legislation would add to the list an option to give to the UN’s Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF), which was established in 2001 to help hard-hit countries grapple with climate change.
The bill is expected to pass the legislature and be signed into law, making Massachusetts the first sub-national authority to allow individuals to contribute to the fund, Climate Home News reports.
“If you happen to think that it matters that there are people living in countries today that will be under water 30 years from now, we would give you the option of contributing to the United Nations’ LDC Fund,” Democratic state senator Mike Barrett, who sponsored the bill, said in a campaign video.
In 2009, diplomats set a goal of channeling $100 billion each year in climate finance to poor countries by 2020, but wealthy nations — most notably, the United States — have been slow to act. An OECD analysis found wealthy nations won’t reach the $100 billion goal until 2023. The new legislation seeks to help narrow the finance gap.
“One of the objectives is to lead by example,” Lauren Stuart, a climate policy adviser at Oxfam America, told In These Times. “At the end of the day, realistically, this legislation probably won’t bring in a ton of money — Massachusetts is not a huge state — but the idea is that hopefully this can prompt other states to take action and, collectively, if we can get more states to implement this, then that can lead to much bigger contributions.”