Lame duck US President Barack Obama approves $500m for global climate fund

January 17, 2017 10:30 pm
With only days left of his administration, pays $500 million for a UN program to help poor countries cut their greenhouse gases in a fight for a better climate worldwide.
The State Department announced Tuesday that Obama approved the payment, agreed under the Paris climate deal, for a second year, making his administration’s contribution to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) amount to one million dollars.
The payment was made just before he leaves the White House on January 20 for Republican President-elect Donald Trump to assume office.
Republicans, whose majority does not even acknowledge climate change despite being a scientific fact, have spared no efforts to block the payment, which is now expected to outrage them.
Obama had vowed to pay $3 billion for the program by 2020 but that was made impossible by such efforts, making the administration seek funding elsewhere in its budget.
“The GCF is the world’s largest multilateral finance institution dedicated to advancing low-emission, climate-resilient development,” US State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement Tuesday. “The GCF was created to help protect vulnerable populations and drive clean energy deployment, all with a special focus on engaging the private sector and mobilizing private capital.”
Trump, for his part, has said that he would “stop all payments of the tax dollars to UN global warming programs.”
While campaigning for the 2016 presidential election, the GOP candidate had also vowed to repeal the Paris climate deal, along with some other hallmarks of Obama’s legacy, but changed his mind days after gaining electoral victory on November 8.
The Tuesday move was hailed by environmentalist groups as well as Obama’s fellow Democrats.

This AFP file photo taken on June 19, 2013 shows US President Barack Obama taking off his jacket prior to a speech on a podium in Berlin.

“These funds will help countries mitigate their climate change impacts and adapt to the devastating droughts, floods, and other weather extremes we are already experiencing,” said Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in a statement. “In helping to advance this global effort, it will serve our own national security interests.”
According to Democratic Senator Jeff Merkle, the GCF “is exactly the kind of international partnership we need to tackle this major challenge.”
“I thank President Obama for establishing America as a world leader on the frontlines of climate action and taking another major stride toward fulfilling America’s $3 billion commitment to the fund,” added the senator.
Meanwhile, concerns were raised that the incoming president may try to repeal such moves or take other measures against the environment.
“The incoming Trump administration and Congress must not play with the moral and legal obligation of the US to provide assistance through the Green Climate Fund for those whose lives and livelihoods are today being devastated by climate change,” said Friends of the Earth. “This must not be twisted into some kind of game to score anti-science political points; the health, well-being and even survival of children and their families are at stake here.”
In his farewell speech, the 44th US president warned of more tangible repercussions the climate change could bring about in the future, voicing hope for efforts to “save this planet.”
“Take the challenge of climate change. In just eight years, we’ve halved our dependence on foreign oil, doubled our renewable energy, and led the world to an agreement that has the promise to save this planet. But without bolder action, our children won’t have time to debate the existence of climate change; they’ll be busy dealing with its effects: environmental disasters, economic disruptions, and waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary.”
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