The winds of change following the US election are about to blow through the well-funded – up to now at least – world of climate-related bureaucracy, as CCN mournfully reports.
US Republicans are expected to axe billions of dollars in climate finance when they take the White House and Congress in January.
Funds to help poor countries adapt to the impacts of global warming and develop sustainably will be redirected to domestic priorities.
“We are going to cancel billions in payments to the UN climate change programmes and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure,” said President-elect Donald Trump in his 22 October Gettysburg address. With a Republican majority in the Senate and House of Representatives, there appears to be little standing in his way.
Rachel Kyte, head of the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All programme, said Trump did not have a mandate to reverse US climate finance commitments. “All developed countries made promises,” she said. “A promise made has to be a promise kept.”
Notably, the US promised $3 billion towards the UN-backed Green Climate Fund, of which just $500m has been delivered. The outstanding sum is a major chunk of the $10bn seed money donated to the flagship scheme.
UN institutions are also vulnerable. The Republicans have been gunning for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) since it accepted Palestine as a full party earlier this year.
They say continuing to fund it clashes with domestic law supportive to Israel – an argument Barack Obama rejected.
“It would be illegal for the President to follow through on his intention to provide millions in funding for the UNFCCC and hundreds of millions for its Green Climate Fund,” says the Republican platform.
A US exit would leave a $4m hole in the UNFCCC’s annual budget, more than a fifth of the total.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which periodically compiles a mass of scientific evidence on the dangerous impacts of global warming and its human causes, also comes under attack.
It is “a political mechanism, not an unbiased scientific institution”, says the Republican manifesto. “Its unreliability is reflected in its intolerance toward scientists and others who dissent from its orthodoxy. We will evaluate its recommendations accordingly.”
Contributing $5m over the past five years, the US is the biggest backer of the IPCC. While the Republicans don’t explicitly threaten to end that, their hostility does not bode well.