US is Starting to Make a Down Payment on Funding International Climate Change Efforts

This past Wednesday (June 17, 2009) the Appropriations Subcommittee of the House of Representatives that has jurisdiction over the international global warming pieces of President Obama’s budget passed a bill that supported increasing US commitments to these needed efforts.  The funding will make a “down payment” in helping developing countries deploy clean energy, reduce global warming pollution from tropical deforestation, and support adaptation in the most vulnerable populations around the world.

Funding this “down payment” is critical as it provides a bridge to the significant source of funding that could come for these activities through the US clean energy and climate bill.  For example, the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act, which passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is poised for action on the House floor provides funding in the future for these needed investments (as I’ve discussed here):

  • Clean energy exports: $476-768 million per year through 2020;
  • Deforestation emissions reductions: $2.4-3.8 billion per year through 2020;
  • International adaptation: $476-768 million per year through 2020 (based upon the calculations here)

In response to the House Appropriations Subcommittee vote NRDC, Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Sierra Club released the following statement.

“Today’s action is an important sign of commitment by the Obama Administration, supported by leaders in Congress, to reasserting US leadership in tackling global warming.  The funding in the legislation will help support efforts in developing countries to drive clean energy solutions, reduce tropical deforestation, and aid the most vulnerable in adapting to climate change.  Such funding represents a concrete step to address the international dimension of global warming while strengthening the US position leading up to negotiations on an international climate agreement in Copenhagen this December.

While it is a first step, however, much work remains to be done to ensure that the funding is used exclusively to finance truly strong clean technology investment that will advance the effort to avert catastrophic global warming, rather than undermining it.  In approving this funding, Congress should direct the Treasury to (i) ensure that no funding from the World Bank’s Clean Technology Fund be used to finance coal-fired power plants without carbon capture and sequestration technology, and (ii) ensure that the World Bank employ comprehensive carbon accounting for all of its relevant projects that reflects the global economic, social, and environmental cost of carbon emissions.

In addition, we urge President Obama and Secretary Geithner to take a stronger and more proactive role in ensuring that the broader funding carried out by multilateral development banks and export-import banks, including the World Bank as well as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Export-Import Bank, pursue their objective of promoting economic growth in developing countries in a way that supports international efforts to address climate change.

We look forward to working with Members of Congress and the Administration to achieve these goals as the legislation moves through Congress.”


This action by the House Subcommittee and the signals emerging from the US climate bill are a good start.  Of course, the “check isn’t written” on either until they are passed out of both the House and Senate and signed by President Obama so we still have some work before these investments will actually help solve these challenges.

And the US will have to increase its investment if we are going to secure a strong agreement in Copenhagen and one that encourages significant reductions in developing country global warming pollution and addresses the impacts of global warming on the most vulnerable.

So some work to still to be done, but some steps in the right direction.

Jake Schmidt is the International Policy Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, this article is cross-posted from his blog on NRDC’s Switchboard



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