Saturday, November 15, 2014

How Will Obama's $3B Pledge Play in GOP Congress?

Pledges to the Green Climate (Credit: Oxfam) Fund Click to Enlarge.
President Obama will follow his promise of sweeping U.S. cuts in greenhouse gas emissions this weekend with a pledge of $3 billion to help poor countries afflicted by miseries linked to global warming, the White House confirmed Friday.

Obama is set to announce the U.S. commitment to the United Nations' Green Climate Fund at the G-20 summit in Australia. The president and Chinese President Xi Jinping will also use the gathering of major industrialized and emerging countries to present their new post-2020 carbon dioxide reduction promises in the hopes of spurring other big carbon emitters to make their own commitments early next year.

The U.S. would make its contribution to the Green Climate Fund over four years, building up an account established during 2010 U.N. climate talks in Cancun, Mexico.  The U.S. pledge would take the fund nearly a third of the way to its goal -- an initial investment of between $10 billion and $15 billion.

Countries were asked to make pledges at a scheduled Nov. 20 meeting in Berlin, which comes a few weeks before the next round of climate change talks in Lima, Peru. Environmentalists and anti-poverty groups embraced reports of the administration's Green Climate Fund pledge with great enthusiasm Friday morning, saying it would encourage other contributions.

"The Obama administration should be applauded for taking action and putting real resources on the table to help protect our children's future and invest in greater security for all of us," said Heather Coleman, climate change manager at Oxfam America, in a statement.  "This pledge can help ensure developing countries have the tools they need to grow in a low-carbon way and the confidence that America will do its part."

But like Obama's commitment earlier this week to slash U.S. emissions by 26 to 28 percent compared with 2005 levels by 2025, the climate funding is likely to be opposed by Republican majorities in Congress.

"Climate finance brings not just one source of opposition but two sources of opposition from conservatives in the Congress -- both to the notion of foreign aid and to the notion of climate change policy," Harvard University economist Robert Stavins said.  "So I think it's particularly challenging."
All of this argues for a greater emphasis on leveraging private capitol rather than directing taxpayer money to international climate finance, Stavins said. U.S. EPA could even do that by allowing international carbon offsets to play a role in its draft rule for existing power plants.

By taking steps to encourage private investment in international projects -- mostly mitigation efforts like deployment of renewable energy -- the administration might also minimize the risk of seeing those funds diverted to other purposes or pocketed by corrupt foreign officials, Stavins said.

Read original article at How Will Obama's $3B Pledge Play in GOP Congress?

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