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Congress offers $1 billion in climate aid, falling short of Biden’s pledge

Congress offers $1 billion in climate aid, falling short of Biden’s pledge

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WASHINGTON — Congress has proposed $1 billion to help poor countries deal with climate change, a number well short of President Biden’s pledge that the United States would spend $11.4 billion annually by 2024 will be spent to ensure developing countries can transition to clean energy and adapt to a warming planet.

The money is part of a sweeping $1.7 trillion government spending package released by lawmakers early Tuesday and expected to be voted on this week.

Democrats had called for $3.4 billion for various global climate programs, but Republicans reversed what they described as “radical environmental and climate policies” in the spending bill. Republicans are poised to take control of the House of Representatives in January, further dampening prospects for additional climate funds for at least the next two years.

The setback for Mr. Biden comes a month after he appeared at the United Nations climate talks in Egypt, where he pledged to provide financial aid to developing countries suffering the effects of a climate crisis, which they are ill-prepared for and this have done the little cause.

“The climate crisis hits hardest those countries and communities that have the fewest resources to respond and recover,” Biden told the gathering.

Climate Adaptation Policy: The Department of the Interior gives money to Native American tribes to help them resettle from areas vulnerable to climate change, potentially creating a model for other communities across the country. Establish Safeguards: The Biden administration is working to avoid waste and abuse in delivering $370 billion in new federal subsidies for electric vehicles and other clean energy technologies. Divided government: Democrats’ strong showing in the 2022 midterm elections ensures Mr. Biden’s climate bill will be fully implemented. But a Republican-controlled House will likely try to slow down some elements.

The United States is the country that has historically pumped the greatest amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

This is the second year in a row that Congress has reduced the President’s requests for climate assistance. Activists said the Biden administration’s inability to meet its own goals undermined the credibility of the United States abroad and questioned the president’s own commitment to “reestablish the United States as a trusted, engaged, global leader on climate.” “.

Neither the White House nor the State Department responded to a request for comment.

Democrats blamed Republicans, whose votes are needed to pass spending legislation that did not include money for the Green Climate Fund, a United Nations-led program.

“Congress just funded a defense bill that was $45 billion more than the President asked for, but we haven’t committed a dime to meet our commitments to the Green Climate Fund — a move that would really help us, our country and protect our planet from chaos and instability,” said Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts. He said Republicans’ “refusal to act in any meaningful way on climate change” was to blame for the deficit.

A spokesman for Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, did not respond to a request for comment.

Saloni Sharma, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said in a statement that hitting Mr. Biden’s $11.4 billion goal was a top priority. “For the past few weeks and this past weekend, members of the administration have been working to secure the FY23 funding that puts us on track to achieve that goal,” she said. “We will continue to work with Congress to make this goal a reality in FY24.”

Helping other nations adapt to a warming planet and mitigate the damage it causes has always been a hard blow in Congress. President Barack Obama has pledged $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund but only delivered $1 billion of it. President Donald J. Trump called the fund a “program to redistribute wealth out of the United States” and cut money for it and most other global climate finance.

The $1 billion in international climate money in the spending bill would be spread across multiple programs, including the Climate Investment Funds, housed at the World Bank and aimed at helping countries develop clean energy; the Global Environment Facility, a multilateral fund focused on biodiversity that is tending to win Republican support; and smaller programs in support of the world’s poorest nations. The money marked a 0.09 percent increase from Congressional allocation in 2021.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration has upped the ante. At the United Nations climate summit in Egypt, the United States agreed to set up an entirely new fund aimed at helping poor countries suffering irreversible losses from climate change. The United States and other developed countries have not committed to a specific level of funding.

In an interview this month, John Kerry, Mr. Biden’s special envoy on climate issues, said the United States has a history of bipartisan support for what he called “humanitarian efforts.”

Christina DeConcini, director of government affairs at the World Resource Institute, agreed, pointing to rare areas of the agreement such as bipartisan support to help Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Getting Congressional support for international climate issues is a matter of educating lawmakers, she said.

Jake Schmidt, senior strategic director for international climate issues at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group, said Mr Biden could still meet his annual target of $11.4 billion but said it was a “steep climb” and would see changes with government agencies where the administration has significant influence, such as the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

But activists abroad said they were increasingly frustrated by what they see as a bipartisan American disinterest in helping poor nations deal with the aftermath of a crisis they didn’t create.

“The US is the world’s largest historical emitter, and on a per capita basis, the US remains one of the largest carbon polluters,” said Mohamed Adow, founder and director of Power Shift Africa, a group dedicated to promoting climate action to mobilize everywhere the continent. He called the level of US funding “hugely disappointing” and said it shows disregard for the United Nations climate panel, which through global consensus has found ways to help poor nations.

“The US has promised a lot in terms of climate finance over the years, but it has not delivered on many of those promises,” Mr. Adow said.

Max Bearak contributed reporting from New York.

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