President Barack Obama made a payment of $500 million to a UN program to help poor countries in the fight against climate change just days before he was due to leave the White House.
The US State Department said on Tuesday that the Obama administration had made its second $500 million payment into the Green Climate Fund (GCF)
The payment was transferred three days before the inauguration of Donald Trump who pledged before his election victory to “cancel billions in global warming payments to the United Nations” and devote funds instead to “environmental infrastructure” at home.
According to the President-elect, man-made global warming is a hoax created by the elite to make money and damage the U.S. economy, and his picks for prominent roles in the administration prove he is serious about “ending the scam.”
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Republicans, whose majority does not even acknowledge climate change despite being a scientific fact, have spared no efforts to block the payment, which is now expected to outrage them.
Obama had vowed to pay $3 billion for the program by 2020 but that was made impossible by such efforts, making the administration seek funding elsewhere in its budget.
“The GCF is the world’s largest multilateral finance institution dedicated to advancing low-emission, climate-resilient development,” US State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement Tuesday. “The GCF was created to help protect vulnerable populations and drive clean energy deployment, all with a special focus on engaging the private sector and mobilizing private capital.”
Trump, for his part, has said that he would “stop all payments of the United States tax dollars to UN global warming programs.”
While campaigning for the 2016 presidential election, the GOP candidate had also vowed to repeal the Paris climate deal, along with some other hallmarks of Obama’s legacy, but changed his mind days after gaining electoral victory on November 8.
The Tuesday move was hailed by environmentalist groups as well as Obama’s fellow Democrats.
“These funds will help countries mitigate their climate change impacts and adapt to the devastating droughts, floods, and other weather extremes we are already experiencing,” said Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in a statement. “In helping to advance this global effort, it will serve our own national security interests.”
According to Democratic Senator Jeff Merkle, the GCF “is exactly the kind of international partnership we need to tackle this major challenge.”
“I thank President Obama for establishing America as a world leader on the frontlines of climate action and taking another major stride toward fulfilling America’s $3 billion commitment to the fund,” added the senator.
Meanwhile, concerns were raised that the incoming president may try to repeal such moves or take other measures against the environment.
“The incoming Trump administration and Congress must not play politics with the moral and legal obligation of the US to provide assistance through the Green Climate Fund for those whose lives and livelihoods are today being devastated by climate change,” said Friends of the Earth. “This must not be twisted into some kind of game to score anti-science political points; the health, well-being and even survival of children and their families are at stake here.”
In his farewell speech, the 44th US president warned of more tangible repercussions the climate change could bring about in the future, voicing hope for efforts to “save this planet.”