The Republican-controlled Congress has so far proven powerless to slow, much less to stop, President Obama’s climate agenda. But all is not yet lost. Congress, in fact, holds the trump card. Money.
As part of the 2009 UN agreement reached in Copenhagen, rich countries agreed to establish and contribute to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Beginning in 2020, the GCF is supposed to distribute $100 billion per year to poor countries under the guise of funding various emissions reduction initiatives and compensation for climate-related damages.
The practical purpose of the GCF is as a means for the Obama administration and Western European nations to purchase the support of poor countries for a climate treaty, thereby making one appear to be global in scope. Otherwise, poor nations have no reason to sign on to an agreement that can only limit their access to the affordable energy necessary for economic development.
But with five months to go until the Paris climate meeting, the GCF is looking like a bust.
Far from its goal of being able to distribute $100 billion per year, rich country pledges to the GCF so far amount to a paltry $10 billion. Worse, actual signed agreements to fund the GCF only amount to $5.47 billion as of the end of May. So the GCF is about 95 percent short of its 2020 goal of $100 billion, not to mention 100 percent short of the $100 billion that would be needed every year thereafter.
Not only are poor countries getting anxious about not getting their any climate payola, the Indian environment secretary said last week that the $100 billion-per-year figure is insufficient to solve the climate change problem.
Though the Obama administration originally pledged $3 billion to the GCF, it only mustered the courage to ask Congress for $500 million in its 2016 budget proposal and even that is in trouble.
Earlier this month, Senate Democrats were able to stop a rider in the State department appropriates bill that would have required Congressional authorization of U.S. contributions to the GCF. Republicans Susan Collins (Maine) and Mark Kirk (Illinois) joined with Committee Democrats in a 16-14 vote against the rider.
Despite that setback, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) has also stated that he would “do everything in my power to prevent $3 billion in taxpayer dollars from going to the Green Climate Fund, where the money will be spent by unelected U.N. bureaucrats to dictate U.S. policy and hinder developing countries’ ability to aggressively address the economics of poverty.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is also hostile to the GCF. The House appropriations bill contains a provision similar to the Senate’s, which is likely to survive House passage.
India is partially correct that $100 billion is not enough to stop climate change. There is, in fact, no amount of money that can stop climate change. Last week’s State of the Climate Report 2014 by the American Meteorological Society stated, for example, that ocean warming will continue for centuries regardless of emissions.
In the end, the GCF is about bribing poor countries into signing the climate treaty for the sake of the appearance. The bribes will not help the climate, and, instead, will just fuel more UN and foreign government corruption — as the infamous UN oil-for-food program did during the Clinton administration.
While Congressional Republicans haven’t had the political will to stop the Obama EPA’s climate rules, barring U.S. participation in the GCF should be a lay-up.
Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com (@JunkScience).