The Department of State sent another $500 million to the United Nations “Green Climate Fund” Tuesday, marking yet another last-minute move to cement President Barack Obama’s legacy before he leaves office in three days.
Obama pledged $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) in 2014, but has only sent $1 billion to the program. The administration sent its first $500 million payment to the GCF in March.
— Department of State (@StateDept) January 17, 2017
The UN, however, shouldn’t expect any more money for the GCF in the next four years.
President-elect Donald Trump promised to “cancel billions in global warming payments” to the UN, and instead use that money to “support America’s vital environmental infrastructure and natural resources.”
“We’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars. We don’t even know who’s doing what with the money,” Trump told supporters at a campaign stop in November.
“We’re gonna work on our own environment,” Trump said. “That includes repairing the Herbert Hoover Dike in Lake Okeechobee, protecting the Florida Everglades.”
The GCF was created to convince developing countries, like China, to sign onto the Paris climate accords in 2015. In total, Western countries promised $100 billion by 2020 to fund green programs in poor countries.
Obama sent an initial $500 million payment to the GCF in March 2016 over objections from Republican lawmakers. No funding was appropriated for the GCF in the 2015 budget deal, but there was no prohibition against the State Department moving money from other accounts.
The State Department got the $500 million by moving funds from programs meant to fight infectious diseases, like the Zika virus. The move was instantly criticized by Republicans.
GOP lawmakers also questioned the legality of the funding, since it’s run by a UN body that recognizes the “State of Palestine.” A 1994 law prevents the government from funding UN bodies that recognize Palestine as a state.
Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee failed to explicitly block GCF funding from an appropriations bill in June.
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