Obama injects $500m into Green Climate Fund

Just three days before he leaves office, outgoing president Barack Obama has moved to protect the momentum of the Paris Agreement through a new $500m instalment into the Green Climate Fund.

With president-elect and climate denier Donald Trump set to take over the reins of the country on Friday (20 January), Obama has added his second instalment to the promised $3bn funding pot, leaving a further $2bn to be paid by the US.

Established in 2010, the Green Climate Fund uses finance from rich countries to aid developing nations with climate mitigation and low-carbon growth. Pressure had been growing on Obama to pledge the full $2.5bn owing, but the latest instalment was drawn from the state department through executive powers, meaning it could be drawn without congressional approval.

“The Obama administration is refusing to let president-elect Trump’s posse of oil barons and climate deniers dictate how the world responds to the climate crisis,” Corporate Accountability International’s Tamar Lawrence-Samuel, who led the campaign, said.

“Tens of thousands of people around the world called on President Obama to step up before Trump takes the keys of our government and tries to reverse decades of climate progress,” she said. “This victory is the climate justice movement’s opening salvo to the Trump presidency. And we’re not going away.”

Softened stance

It is unlikely that Trump will continue to provide for the Green Climate Fund, which was one of the major reasons that the Paris Agreement was approved in 2015. Trump had previously threatened to pull out of the Paris Agreement, but a growing number of people believe that his team is softening its stance towards climate change.

Having previously viewed global warming as a hoax, Trump has apparently “softened his tone”, according to China’s special representative for climate change, Xie Zhenhua. Speaking to the China Daily newspaper, Xie noted that “industrial upgrades aiming for more sustainable growth is a global trend” which couldn’t be reversed by a single leader. Xie also noted that the global society had a role to play in pressuring Trump to continue with the clean energy movement.

These claims have since been supported by UK researchers, who believe that Trump’s team do acknowledge the relationship between fossil fuels and rising temperatures.

Researchers from the University of Oxford noted that the acknowledgment of these links could be “more than enough to justify continuing the relatively modest goals of both the Paris agreement and Clean Power Plan.”

The researchers form part of a group of 100 scientists that have this week urged UK Prime Minister Theresa May to communicate with Trump on climate change.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, the scientists warn that a Trump Administration may weaken climate research, and that the UK should offer new research jobs to disillusioned US scientists.

 “We don’t know how bad it will be, and it seems that Trump has slightly gone back on some of the rhetoric, but there are still worrying concerns,” the University of Leeds’ professor Piers Foster told the Guardian. “What concerns me is that if we don’t have good scientific data and observations coming from America, we’ll be flying blind.”

Matt Mace

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