Congress Deals a Blow to President Joe Biden’s Climate Assistance Commitment

  • Congress’ comprehensive spending bill for next year includes $1 billion for international climate aid.
  • The amount falls short of President Joe Biden’s pledge to quadruple climate aid to $11 billion.
  • Many poorer countries are facing the cost of a crisis they did little to cause.

Congress has just dealt a blow to President Joe Biden’s commitment to quadruple climate finance for poor countries to $11 billion a year.

Lawmakers on Tuesday released a more than 4,000-page government finance bill that will spend a little more than $1 billion on international climate finance for the coming fiscal year, according to an analysis the Natural Resources Defense Council shared with Insider. The environmental group said the amount was only a 0.09% increase over fiscal 2022.

Congress is expected to pass the bill this week.

The White House had hoped Congress would allocate $5.3 billion for climate aid. The remainder needed to meet the $11 billion target would come from various federal agencies with discretion over their spending.

The budget package comes a month after world leaders at the United Nations climate summit in Egypt pledged to increase funding for developing countries that are at the forefront of a climate crisis they did not cause. Rich countries like those in the US and Europe are responsible for 80% of greenhouse gas emissions after more than a century of burning fossil fuels to industrialize their economies.

“This is really undermining trust in the United States,” Joe Thwaites, the international climate finance advocate for the NRDC who led the group’s analysis, told Insider. “This is disappointing because the US was just beginning to emerge. The Inflation Reduction Act provides a way to meet emissions reduction commitments. But US commitments to international climate finance are not credible.”

In August, President Biden passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which, along with other green initiatives, includes nearly $370 billion in new climate spending and tax cuts for clean energy, electric vehicles and homes.

Thwaites noted that previous federal spending proposals from House and Senate Democrats included about $3 billion in climate finance, but those amounts were likely slashed by Republicans who have long opposed funds like the UN’s Green Climate Fund, the largest global pool of money to aid development. countries use clean energy and adapt to rising temperatures.

Democrats have a weak majority in the Senate and need at least 60 votes to pass a spending bill. Finding new money for climate efforts will likely become more difficult as Republicans will take control of the House after the upcoming midterm elections.

Neither the House and Senate Appropriations committees nor the White House returned Insider’s request for comment.

Thwaites said the Biden administration could increase spending through other channels, although Congress again failed to deliver on US climate aid promises this year. US institutions such as the Export-Import Bank and the International Development Finance Corporation have flexible accounts that can be referred to climate projects.

“Congress has made it clear what they are willing to own,” Thwaites said. “The focus now really needs to be shifted to the White House. The Biden administration needs to light a fire under these agencies and make sure they look under the seat cushions for every possible way to increase spending.”

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