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US senate committee votes to reinstate funding to UN climate treaty

(2017-09-07)The US senate appropriations committee, which is lead by Republicans, has voted to contribute $10 million to the UN treaty organisation that oversees the Paris climate agreement.

An amendment by Democrat senator Jeff Merkley would restore the funding stripped from the overseas budget for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

In March, president Donald Trump’s budget proposal stripped the US’ annual funding for the UNFCCC, which also makes up the US’ contribution to the UN’s climate science panel.

The US has traditionally contributed around 20% of the operational funding – $6.44m – for the secretariat of the UNFCCC and last year provided 45% of the funding for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The committee’s ranking democrat senator Patrick Leahy said: “The president sent us a budget that was irresponsible and indefensible. We were provided no credible justification for the cuts that were proposed, which would have severely eroded US global leadership.”

Leahy called the president’s budget request “reckless” and said: “This bill does not do enough to protect our national security interests.  Underfunding many critical programs – from UN peacekeeping to climate change to humanitarian relief for victims of war and natural disasters – is unacceptable for the world’s wealthiest, most powerful nation.”

On Thursday, Climate Home reported that other countries – including the European Commission, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Switzerland and the UK – were preparing to step in to fill the funding gap and save the IPCC from plunging into millions of dollars of debt.

The amendment passed through the committee 16 to 14. All the Democrats in the committee voted for the amendment, except Joe Manchin the West Virginian senator. Two Republicans Lamar Alexander and Susan Collins voted in favour.

The House appropriations bill did not replace the funding stripped by Trump and the final outcome of the budget will need to be negotiated between the chambers.

A further amendment, which would have sent $750m to the UN’s Green Climate Fund, which assists poor countries with adapting to climate change, was rejected by the committee.

Date:Sep 08,2017