Obama isn’t done just yet. With just three days left to go until Trump’s inauguration, he’s been making some rather bold and welcome moves that the future occupant of the Oval Office cannot undo.
As reported by the Guardian, the climate-conscious leader of the free world has signed a check for $500 million to be handed to the Green Climate Fund, a key part of the framework for the UN convention on climate change, and a necessity for the groundbreaking Paris agreement to work.
The fund was started in 2010, but it’s since been somewhat merged into the climate change pact. It’s primarily designed to help poorer and less developed nations transition to clean energy more efficiently and effectively.
The US, for its part, has promised $3 billion of funding as part of its ratification of the Paris agreement – and without this contribution, it’s likely that poorer nations will not be able to achieve their carbon-cutting goals. To date, the Obama administration has now donated $1 billion of this to the fund, but it’s likely that the next $2 billion won’t be handed over by the climate change denying Trump administration.
The funds were once again procured from the State Department. This required no congressional approval, and was ordered by an executive action that Trump cannot reverse.
This donation comes as welcome news not just to all the signatories of the Paris agreement, but to the 100,000 people who petitioned the president to procure the funds before he left office. Although they were hoping that he would hand over the entire remaining $2.5 billion, this is still better than nothing.
This once again highlights the juxtaposition between the outgoing and incoming presidents. The former has invested in renewable energy and protected more public land and water than any other president in American history. He’s also cut down on fossil fuel capacity quite dramatically, and – of course – helped realize the Paris agreement, along with the Chinese government.
Trump, on the other hand, has filled his cabinet with climate change deniers, oil barons and anti-environmentalists, many of whom have been heavily lobbied – and funded – by the fossil fuel industry, particularly when it comes to coal. The president-elect himself has gone from proclaiming climate change to be a Chinese-borne hoax to essentially just being very ambivalent about it.
While the world forges on with its climate change mitigation, Trump’s America will swim as hard as it can against the stream. At least, with this parting shot by Obama, there’s something to smile about.