President Barack Obama announced Saturday that the United States will contribute $3 billion to an international fund designed to help developing countries cut carbon emissions and prepare responses to the effects of climate change.
The U.S. commitment follows pledges to the Green Climate Fund from other countries including $1 billion each from France and Germany and $500 million from Sweden.
Created in 2009, the fund was set up to help developing countries turn away from inexpensive but carbon-producing energy sources such as coal, while also helping them prepare for the effects of climate change such as rising sea levels.
Obama made the pledge as he attended a meeting in Brisbane of the G20, leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies.
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Environmentalists applauded the announcement, noting that it came just days after Obama reached an agreement with China to curb carbon emissions in the two countries.
“The Obama administration’s historic agreement with China and now this major financial commitment to help address the climate crisis builds momentum toward a global climate deal in Paris at the end of next year,” said Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters.
But Republicans criticized it as defying the midterm elections that punished Obama’s Democrats.
“President Obama’s pledge to give unelected bureaucrats at the U.N. $3 billion for climate change initiatives is an unfortunate decision to not listen to voters in this most recent election cycle,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
The U.S. money will not exceed 30 percent of the total, the White House said. “We expect that the U.S. share will decline over time as the range of countries contributing to the GCF expands.” the White House said.