As President Donald Trump meets later this week with world leaders in Europe who favor strong action against climate change, his administration is drawing heat back home for its proposed budget, calling for the United States to stop funding global climate programs.
The administration’s proposed fiscal year 2018 budget, released Tuesday, zeroes out $1.6 billion in U.S. contributions to the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund and the Global Climate Change Initiative, a State Department-run account that funded all climate diplomacy efforts during most of the Obama administration.
The State Department budget “reflects a shift in global foreign policy priorities” that “mirrors other department reductions in this area,” the Trump administration explains in its spending proposal.
Trump will gather with officials from major developed countries later this week at the G7 summit Italy, where climate finance and the Paris climate agreement are expected to be discussed. On Tuesday, Trump met with Pope Francis in Vatican City where Francis reportedly presented the president with copies of his writings, including a signed copy of “Laudato Si,” the pontiff’s 192-page encyclical on the environment.
Unlike Trump, who once claimed climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese, Francis’ encyclical affirms that global warming has been confirmed by a “very consistent scientific consensus” and that humans are the cause.
Trump’s proposed budget also would eliminate spending for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is the infrastructure for international climate negotiations like the Paris climate agreement.
“This budget’s severe cuts single out our clean air and water and our attempts to fight climate disruption,” Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, wrote in a blog post that included the international climate programs in a list of the 10 worst cuts in Trump’s budget proposal. “The targets of these budget cuts are actually wildly popular with Americans. … Seventy-two percent of U.S. voters say it’s a ‘bad idea’ to significantly cut funding for scientific research on the environment and climate change.”
In its proposed budget, the Trump administration also says the United States has fulfilled its $2 billion pledge to the Climate Investment Funds and does not intend to provide further contributions. The funds include the Clean Technology Fund and the Strategic Climate Fund. The technology fund promotes low-carbon technologies, while the climate fund helps vulnerable countries adapt their development programs to address the effects of climate change.
The Climate Investment Funds pre-dated the most recent international fund, the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund. In 2014, President Barack Obama pledged $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund. So far, the United States has contributed $1 billion to the fund.
The administration also plans to eliminate funding for the Global Climate Finance Facility under the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and significantly reduce funding for the Global Environment Facility, a partnership of UN agencies, multilateral development banks, and national entities.
Forty Senate Democrats sent Trump a letter on Wednesday telling him not to pull the U.S. out of the Paris agreement. “Backing out of the Paris Agreement now, after the years of painstaking negotiations and strong U.S. leadership it took to get the world to this point, would be a self-inflicted injury to America’s credibility and influence on the world stage,” they reportedly wrote in the letter.
At the G7 summit, German chancellor Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, France’s new president, are expected to encourage Trump to keep the United States in the Paris agreement. In Britain, a petition by Greenpeace urging Prime Minister Theresa May to “use your influence to save the Paris climate deal,” has collected more than 155,000 signatures.
The White House has said Trump will wait until after the G7 summit to make a decision on whether to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.