The U.S. government paid $500 million to the United Nations Green Climate Fund on Tuesday. The contribution made through the State Department could be the last of $3 billion pledged once Donald Trump takes office.
The President-elect has vowed to opt out of funding climate change initiatives, including NASA research and payments to the UN global fund.
The move represents Obama’s last effort to support the cause of fighting climate change before Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday, January 20.
U.S. Senators and organizations have expressed their approval of President Obama’s initiative to keep his word even under these circumstances.
The U.S. will still owe $2 billion
Tuesday’s check to the UN Green Climate Fund brings total U.S. contributions to the cause to $1 billion. The government initially pledged $3 billion over the course of three years, leaving a $2 million pending payment.
The U.S., who helped the United Nations to negotiate The Paris Agreement with nearly 200 signatories, promised to give $3 billion to the cause before Trump even ran for office.
Now, the President-elect is left with the responsibility to uphold this pledge. Based on previous statements, Trump is likely to halt payments altogether and dismiss all obligations it has to the Green Climate Fund.
Why did Obama use the State Department to make the payment?
The U.S. State Department became the back channel through which the Obama administration made payments to the United Nations after Congress refused to approve the funds when the accords were first struck.
Although the timing is certainly convenient, the government agency reassured the press that President Obama had no “nefarious desire or intent” when paying half a billion to the UN.
“It’s not being done to try to provoke a reaction from the incoming administration or to try to dictate to them one way or the other how they are going to deal with climate issues,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said.
Climate change is not a priority for the Trump administration
Donald Trump has called climate change a hoax in the past and several of his appointees set to serve under his administration think alike.
One such person is Rex Tillerson, the next Secretary of State of the U.S. and former CEO of ExxonMobil. It goes without saying that Tillerson’s business background lines up with his views on climate issues, acknowledging them at first but dismissing them later.
Environment groups and their supporters fear the oil executive means bad news for the fight against climate change. He could set back world efforts to diminish the effects of harmful emissions with his actions as Secretary of State.
Trump is expected to push an agenda that relies more heavily on fossil fuels in spite of a growing clean energy industry. The U.S. stance on climate could even, potentially, influence economies around the world to fall in line with their views.
Source: U.S. State Department