Congress Prohibits Funding U.S. Commitment to U.N.’s Green Climate Fund
On December 10, 2014, Congress prohibited the federal government from funding President Obama’s $3 billion pledge to the U.N. Green Climate Fund (GCF) during the 2015 fiscal year. President Obama announced the pledge on November 15, 2014. The language that blocked the funding was a rider in the 1,600-page, $1 trillion “Cromnibus” spending bill Congress passed in December.
U.N. delegates designed the GCF in 2010 to pool contributions for financing adaptation and mitigation projects in developing countries. Developed countries have made the largest commitments to the GCF, but Indonesia, Mongolia, and Panama have announced commitments as well.
During December’s international climate talks, developing world leaders requestedaid regarding technology transfers, capacity building, and climate change adaptation projects. The negotiations, which the U.N. held in Lima, Peru, stuck on whether developed nations would commit to fund adaptation and mitigation programs in developing countries, in addition to cutting emissions. Developed countries sought to develop strong emissions targets early in the negotiations. U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern has said that financing commitments could “distract from the focus on getting mitigations targets as good as they can be . . . .” Developing countries, on the other hand, want the financing of climate change adaptation projects to advance alongside emissions cuts. In October, the environmental ministers of Brazil, South Africa, India, and China released a statement saying that such commitments would create “the trust and confidence indispensable for the successful conclusion of the 2014 agreement.”
Congressional Republicans have criticized President Obama’s pledge to fund the GCF. Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, who now leads the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said that “the President’s climate change agenda has only siphoned precious taxpayer dollars away from the real problems facing the American people” and that “unelected bureaucrats at the U.N.” would not respond to American voters.
The practical effect of Congress’ action is unclear. The rider only prohibits funding the $3 billion pledge during the 2015 fiscal year, but President Obama did not request GCF funds for the 2015 fiscal year. However, developing nations may not support a climate agreement that does not adequately and reliably finance adaptation and mitigation programs. If they believe that financial commitments to such projects are uncertain, a final climate agreement—which is to be negotiated in Paris at the end of 2015—may be more difficult to achieve.
Posted by Ross Woessner
at 01/29/2015 4:57 PM