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US Congress Bill Drops Funding For IPCC, Green Climate Fund

Patrick Goodenough, CNS News

Just months before the most important U.N. climate conference in years, Republican appropriators in the House of Representatives are taking aim at one of the Obama administration’s most cherished priorities – international climate change funding.

An appropriations bill for the State Department and foreign operations, released Tuesday, excludes funding for three major climate initiatives – the Green Climate Fund, the Clean Technology Fund, and the Strategic Climate Fund – and also removes funding for the U.N.-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Also in the firing line is funding for the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and debt relief.

The bill eliminates funding for these “lower-priority international programs,” the House Appropriations Committee said in a statement, in order to meet what it views as top priorities – including “funding for security activities around the world,” support for key allies, and increased funding “for embassy and diplomatic security to address new needs identified after the Benghazi terrorist attack.”

“This legislation is first and foremost a national security bill,” said Rep Kay Granger (R-Texas), chairwoman of the Appropriations subcommittee on State and foreign operations.

Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said it provides funding for “critical endeavors – bolstering the fight against terror, strengthening our allies, helping innocent lives facing conflict and strife, and protecting our democracy, our people, and our way of life.”

In doing so, the drafters decided climate change programs did not merit funding.

The Green Climate Fund, launched in 2011, is designed to help developing countries curb “greenhouse gas” emissions and cope with occurrences attributed to climate change, such as rising sea levels.

With the aim of reaching $100 billion a year from public and private sources by 2020, it is one of the most ambitious elements of the global climate campaign.

President Obama last November pledged $3 billion for the GCF, a promise touted by Secretary of State John Kerry at subsequent U.N. climate talks, even as Republican lawmakers slammed the move.

The U.S. pledge is by far the largest announced contribution to date for the fund, which now has pledges totaling some $10.2 billion, from 33 countries.

In its fiscal year 2016 budget request, the administration asked for $500 million – $350 million for the State Department and $150 million for the Treasury Department – as a first step towards meeting that $3 billion objective.

The Clean Technology Fund aims to provide financing for low-carbon technologies, aimed at reducing the emission of the “greenhouse gases” blamed for climate change.

The administration’s FY2016 request included $170.68 million for the CTF.

The Strategic Climate Fund is a multi-faceted initiative meant to help countries deemed most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, to respond to the potential risks they face. It includes programs aimed at helping them become more resilient, to combat deforestation, and to access renewable energy.

The administration requested $59.6 million for the SCF in FY2016. […]

‘Tight budget environment’

France is hosting a U.N. international climate conference in November and December this year, and the Obama administration is energetically supporting efforts to produce a new global climate treaty.

At a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing last month, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) questioned Acting Assistant Secretary Judith Garber about the administration’s climate change requests in what he called a “tight budget environment.”

“Given the increasing need for humanitarian assistance, democracy promotion, embassy security measures, countering global terrorist threats, I’m wondering why the administration is requesting such a large increase for global climate change, when most people think this could be better spent [on those other issues],” Barrasso said.

Garber defended the GCF, saying it differed from existing climate investment funds in key respects. It draws in the private sector, will have a much broader donor base, focuses on the most vulnerable, and will be more transparent, she said.

In an op-ed Wednesday, three former deputy assistant secretaries of environment and energy, Matthew Kotchen, Gilbert Metcalf and William Pizer, argued that support for the GCF was in the U.S. national interest.

“When poor, vulnerable countries pursue climate-resilient growth, they are better able to cope with extreme weather events and experience fewer disasters. And when emerging economies build out more clean energy infrastructure, we all avoid the worst of climate change in the first place,” they wrote. “The result is a more secure and stable world, benefiting our nation and all countries.”

A Feb. 2015 Congressional Research Service report highlighted likely congressional concerns about climate-related budget requests: fiscal constraints, potential for misuse by “inefficient and bloated bureaucracies,” uncertain results, and uncertainties in climate science.

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