By Timothy Cama
A group of religious, environmental, civil rights and other interest groups is pushing Congress to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars for a United Nations climate change fund.
Dozens of groups wrote to the heads of the House and Senate Appropriations committees asking them to set aside $750 million this year for the Green Climate Fund, which gives poor countries money to cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.
They’re fighting against efforts led by congressional Republicans and conservatives, who want to block any potential money going to the fund that the Obama administration’s critics see as a wasteful international slush fund.
But the Thursday letter argues that it’s in the United States’ best interest to pay into the fund, and the money will lead to a cleaner, more stable world.
“This funding is a core aspect of assisting developing countries adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change and move toward a healthier, cleaner, more stable and sustainable world,” they wrote. “This funding represents a sound investment to mitigate not only the future economic and human costs of climate change but also the threats to U.S. and international security.”
The coalition includes the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Friends Committee on National Legislation and the BlueGreen Alliance.
President Obama has pledged that the United States will pay $3 billion into the Green Climate Fund by 2020, and the State Department made the first $500 million payment this month.
Some Republicans wanted last year to prevent the State Department from making any such payments. In a compromise with Democrats, last year’s government funding bill did not set aside any Green Climate Fund money, but it didn’t prohibit the State Department from moving money from elsewhere to make a contribution.
But the GOP has vowed to keep up its fight. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and some colleagues wrote to appropriators earlier in March to say that they’d oppose any efforts to allow payments to the fund.