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Obama’s Climate Fund Pledge: “Absolutely No Chance Whatsoever”

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Lisa Friedman, E&E News

“Absolutely no chance whatsoever” is how incoming Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) described the chances of Obama’s climate fund pledge approval.

The Obama administration is poised to announce a pledge of billions of dollars to an international climate change fund ahead of the G-20 summit in Australia this weekend, several sources have told ClimateWire.

The pledge to the Green Climate Fund — $3 billion over four years, according to two people close to the funding discussions — is certain to antagonize Republicans. Many yesterday warned that any such request would be dead on arrival in the new GOP-led Congress. But coming on the heels of a historic agreement with China to jointly roll back greenhouse gas emissions, the promise of U.S. money to help vulnerable countries develop clean energy and adapt to the impacts of climate change is also expected to win broad approval internationally.

Environmental activists who have been anticipating the announcement ahead of a formal pledging meeting in Berlin on Nov. 20 said a significant U.S. contribution will be critical to clinching a new international global warming deal in Paris in 2015. […]

But Congress still holds the federal purse strings, and several Republicans said yesterday that the new GOP majority will never let the climate funding see the light of day.

“Absolutely no chance whatsoever” is how incoming Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) described the money’s chances of approval.

“I see this as something that he’s playing to those who are responsible for his victory in becoming president of the United States. Yet he knows it’s not going to pass. But it sounds good — to him. It doesn’t sound good to me,” Inhofe said.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said the United States needs to focus on getting its fiscal house in order.

“Given a $17 trillion debt and a $400 billion deficit, we ought to move with caution on new spending programs,” he said. Asked if he could back the the money if it were offset and did not increase total spending, he said, “I’d need to see the proposal.” But, Flake noted, it’s “safe to say” he is skeptical of putting U.S. dollars in the Green Climate Fund.

Even Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who once championed climate change legislation, was wary.

“I’m a little skeptical about that,” he said of the Green Climate Fund. “Foreign aid, I’ve always been supportive of that. But earmarking it just for green activities, I’d have to really examine that carefully.”

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