Billions to be channeled towards climate measures in US president’s 2016 budget
By Sophie Yeo
Barack Obama’s 2016 budget requests US$500 million for the UN’s Green Climate Fund, which will help poor countries to prepare for climate change and reduce their emissions.
This will be the first instalment of the $3 billion the US president pledged to the fund last year.
“We further urge the Obama administration to expend the political capital necessary to make sure that Congress appropriates the funds,” said Karen Orenstein, senior international policy analyst at Friends of the Earth US.
“We expect appropriations numbers to ramp up next year (FY17) so the US can deliver the full $3 billion that it has pledged to the GCF within a four year period.”
The budget also includes incentives for US states to make faster and deeper cuts to emissions.
It proposes $7.4 billion in funding for clean energy technology and $4 billion for states to clean up their coal fired power plants, a step Obama laid out last year.
States will be able to qualify for a slice of the $4 billion funding by making early targets to reduce power plant emissions or by going further than required.
The money they access could be used to finance clean energy technology, given to low income communities facing disproportionate pollution or create incentives for businesses to back carbon cutting projects.
The $7.4 billion figure is an increase on the $6.9 billion proposed for clean energy technology in Obama’s 2015 budget.
On adaptation to climate change, there is $400 million to help communities assess flood risks and $89 million to combat drought.
“The failure to invest in climate solutions and climate preparedness does not just fly in the face of the overwhelming judgement of science – it is fiscally unwise,” says the budget report.
Obama has increasingly made clear climate change is a priority for his last years in office.
A Republican-heavy Congress has made it difficult for him to pass new legislation and is likely to object to elements of the proposed 2016 budget.
In a statement Senator James Inhofe, the Republican chair of the Senate Energy and Public Works Committee, said he would try and stop any new monies for climate-related projects.
“I will… 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 UN bureaucrats to dictate US policy and hinder developing countries’ ability to aggressively address the economics of poverty,” he said in a statement.
Total spending in the budget amounts to around $4 trillion.