The U.S. Pledge To Double Financial Climate Change Commitment To Worst Hit Nations

87 The U.S. Pledge To Double Financial Climate Change Commitment To Worst Hit Nations
Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the COP21 Paris climate talks, making new pledges from the U.S. COP PARIS/Flickr CC0 1.0

In the last few days of the Paris climate talks, the United States has pledged to double its aid to help finance climate-hit countries. The aim of the pledge is to help build better protections against the changing climate, with John Kerry (who made the announcement) arguing that it is better to try and avert disaster than to pay more to clean it up. The move is seen as an attempt to alleviate the doubts from many developing countries about the pledges made by richer nations to help fund them in climate change mitigation.

The announcement pushes the amount that the U.S. has promised to those countries to $861 million (£567 million) by 2020. This is in addition to the $3 billion (£2 billion) already pledged earlier by the nation for the Green Climate Fund, which will encourage developing nations to make the move to renewable energy sources and to cut their reliance on fossil fuels. John Kerry has also said that the U.S. will join a coalition of countries, which include Canada and the E.U., calling for a more ambitious limit to temperature rise – an upper limit of 1.5°C (2.7°F).


Although earlier this week a draft text for commitments on the degree to which countries will cut their greenhouse emissions was agreed upon, things have reached somewhat of a sticking point in the last few days of the COP21 talks. The main issues have boiled down to finance, with the developing nations seeking assurances that any pledges made by the more developed countries, which historically have emitted most of the carbon that is now driving climate change, will be followed through.

This move by Kerry and the U.S. is seen as an attempt to try and ease these worries. Another issue is the upper level at which warming should not breach. Currently, it is set at an average global warming of 2°C (3.2°F) above pre-industrial levels, but many developing nations say that this is simply too much. They argue that if the world is allowed to warm this much, many low-lying islands will no longer exist. They are instead pushing for a lower limit of 1.5°C (2.7°F), which now seems to be gaining traction.  

The final major hurdle before Friday’s deadline is the question of whether or not the commitments should be legally binding. Many nations are reluctant to sign a deal that will lock them into cutting their greenhouse gas emissions, but again Kerry has come out and said that the U.S. backs the notion to place it within a legal framework. All of these commitments – increasing aid, backing the 1.5°C (2.7°F) limit, and making deals legally binding – are expected to be dismissed by the Republicans who currently control Congress. The White House has, however, indicated that Obama is prepared to use his powers of veto to overcome this. 

Main image credit: COP PARIS/Flickr CC0 1.0


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