AP Photo/Fareed Khan
- Congress’ sweeping spending bill for next year includes $1 billion for international climate aid.
- The amount falls short of President Joe Biden’s promise to quadruple climate aid to $11 billion.
- Many poorer countries are facing costs for a crisis they did little to cause.
Congress just dealt a blow to President Joe Biden’s pledge to quadruple climate financing for poorer nations to $11 billion a year.
Lawmakers on Tuesday released a more than 4,000-page government funding bill for the coming fiscal year that would spend just over $1 billion on international climate finance, according to an analysis that the Natural Resources Defense Council shared with Insider. The amount is only a 0.09% increase over fiscal 2022, the environmental group said.
Congress is expected to pass the bill this week.
The White House hoped Congress would appropriate $5.3 billion for climate assistance. The remainder needed to hit the $11 billion target would have come from various federal agencies that have discretion over their spending.
The budget package arrived a month after world leaders at a United Nations’ climate summit in Egypt promised to boost funding for developing countries on the frontlines of a climate crisis they didn’t cause. Wealthy countries like the US and those in Europe account for 80% of greenhouse gas emissions after more than a century of burning fossil fuels to industrialize their economies.
“This really undermines trust in the US,” Joe Thwaites, NRDC’s international climate finance advocate who conducted the group’s analysis, told Insider. “It’s disappointing because the US was just starting to show up. The Inflation Reduction Act provides a pathway to deliver emissions-reductions pledges. But the US commitments on international climate finance just aren’t credible.”
In August, President Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes nearly $370 billion in new climate spending and tax breaks for clean energy, electric vehicles, and homes along with other green initiatives.
Thwaites noted that prior federal spending proposals by House and Senate Democrats included about $3 billion for climate finance, but those amounts were likely shot down by Republicans who have long opposed funds like the UN’s Green Climate Fund — the largest global pool of money to help developing countries deploy clean energy and adapt to rising temperatures.
Democrats have a slim majority in the Senate and need at least 60 votes to clear a spending bill. Finding new money for climate efforts is likely to get harder because Republicans will soon take control of the House following the recent midterm elections.
Neither the House and Senate Appropriations committees, nor the White House, returned Insider’s request for comment.
Thwaites said that even though Congress failed to fulfill US climate aid promises again this year, the Biden administration could increase spending through other channels. US agencies like the Export-Import Bank and International Development Finance Corporation have flexible accounts that could be steered toward climate projects.
“Congress has made clear what they’re what they’re willing to appropriate,” Thwaites said. “The focus now really needs to move towards to the White House. The Biden administration needs to light a fire under these agencies and make sure they’re looking under the couch cushions to find every possible way to ramp up the spending.”