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GOP Midterm Gains Quash Hopes Of US Paying Climate Reparations

cop27 money protest

Republicans have taken control of the House of Representatives, diminishing the chances of the US delivering on its climate finance pledges.

President Joe Biden promised $11.4 billion a year by 2024 to support climate action in developing countries, including an overdue $2bn to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). [emphasis, links added]

But he got little through Congress in his first two years of office. A rightward swing in midterm elections, while smaller than predicted, will make it harder to appropriate funds for the climate agenda.

Following a closely fought campaign, the Republicans flipped the House with a narrow margin, enabling them to block new climate legislation. Democrats retain control of the Senate after winning contested seats in Arizona and Nevada.

Broken Promise

The US has yet to deliver on a pledge to the GCF made eight years ago. In 2014, then-president Barack Obama promised the GCF $3bn but he handed over just $1bn before leaving office.

His successor Donald Trump did not give any money to the fund and to date neither has Biden.

Biden said he would double US climate finance to developing countries from Obama-era levels to $11.4bn a year by 2024. With Republicans in control of the House, it is now looking unlikely he will meet that target.

Republicans generally favor a small state and don’t see climate as a priority for public spending. Wyoming Senator John Barrasso described Biden’s 2022 budget proposal as “another pipe dream of liberal activism and climate extremism. It spends too much, borrows too much, and taxes too much.

With the Republicans in control of the House, “I don’t anticipate any sort of interest or support in international climate finance,” said Clarence Edwards, an environmental advocate with the non-profit Friends Committee on National Legislation.

“It was a difficult road for climate finance, even with a Democratically controlled Congress,” he said. In March, US Congress approved a mere $1 billion in international climate finance for 2022only $387 million more than the funding allocated during Trump’s presidency.

The US should be providing $45-50bn of finance every year under a “fair share” calculation factoring in the size of its economy and historical emissions, according to the Overseas Development Institute. Campaigners described the 2022 budget as a “betrayal”.

But all hope is not lost.

Democrats have other avenues to channel climate funds. Of the $11.4bn pledge, Biden has requested that Congress appropriate half ($5.3bn). The remainder is to come through various development agencies, such as the Development Finance Corporation and the Trade and Development Authority.

A Republican-controlled House could signal to other big emitters that they can stall climate progress, experts told Climate Home News.

Laggards are going to feel little to no pressure to actually take action,” said Kate DeAngelis, international finance program manager at Friends of the Earth Action.

South Korea, for example, recently elected a Conservative government, and Japan has been pushing the expansion of LNG at home and abroad, she said.

“The elections are very interesting for Japan,” said Hanna Hakko, senior analyst at E3G. The US is Japan’s “most important ally”, therefore the Asian country strives to keep a similar ambition level, Hakko said.

She added that Japan will be watching closely what kind of positions the US will take at the G7 next year, which Tokyo is hosting.

European governments may also “continue to delay or release policies with giant loopholes for gas,” said DeAngelis.

The Netherlands, for example, said last week that it will continue to provide international finance for fossil fuel projects in 2023, deferring a promise made at Cop26.

Read rest at Climate Home News

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