The Obama administration on Tuesday delivered a second payment of $500 million to the Green Climate Fund, an international effort meant to help the world’s poorest countries combat the effects of climate change.
The move, announced just three days before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, brings the total support from the United States to the fund to $1 billion and solidifies Obama’s efforts to combat the phenomenon during his administration, which he has called the greatest long-term threat facing the world.
Obama pledged in 2014 to contribute $3 billion in total funding by the end of the decade, despite deep opposition from Republicans in Congress. But the president was able to circumvent congressional approval, and both this payment and last year’s were funded through the State Department.
The Green Climate Fund was established in 2010 by the United Nations as a means to help developing nations cope with climate change and its effects. It’s helped fund projects ranging from climate-resistant agriculture to sustainable energy, with a focus on adaption initiatives.
“The GCF supports developing nations in their efforts to achieve those objectives and to become more resilient to climate change ― in turn, reducing the global and national security risks associated with inadequate adaptation to and preparedness for extreme weather events and other climate related impacts,” the State Department said in a news release announcing Tuesday’s payment.
The initiative hopes to raise $100 billion by 2020 through public and private funding. So far, 43 countries have pledged about $10 billion of that sum, including contributions of $1 billion or more from Japan, the United Kingdom, France and Germany.
It will help give us a ‘seat at the table’ in future climate change negotiations which even president-elect Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of State endorsed as part of our nation’s global leadership.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
It’s unclear if such payments from America will continue under a Trump presidency, but such support seems unlikely. The president-elect has called climate change a hoax manufactured by the Chinese and threatened to end all government funding to combat global warming. He’s also said he hoped to withdraw the U.S. from the landmark Paris climate deal.
But despite those threats, the White House’s continued support drew widespread praise.
“I commend the Administration for making this contribution, which has bipartisan support in the Senate,” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said in a statement. “It will help give us a ‘seat at the table’ in future climate change negotiations which even president-elect Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of State endorsed as part of our nation’s global leadership.”
Advocacy groups also applauded the announcement and called on Congress to continue its support.
“Recent GCF funding has gone to Pacific islands to help them deploy renewable energy, to Uganda and Sri Lanka to cope with drought, and to Rwanda and Kenya to roll out household solar energy,” Joe Thwaites, an associate at the World Resources Institute, said in a release. “The U.S. has now delivered one-third of its $3 billion pledge to the GCF. We call on Congress to fulfill the remainder of the pledge in the coming years.”
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