White House: U.S. to invest $3 billion to combat climate change

Obama veering left?

Nov. 14, 201408:45

In the wake of last week’s midterm elections, which dealt Democrats a blow and cost the party control of the Senate, President Obama has championed a number of liberal causes -- not least of all combating climate change.

The U.S. will contribute $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, which aims to reduce global greenhouse gasses, the White House said Friday. America joins a host of other countries that have made financial contributions, including Germany, France, Mexico and others.

"Today, I'm announcing that the United States will take another important step," Obama said late Friday in a speech at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. "We will contribute $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund to help developing nations deal with climate change."

"Along with other nations that have pledged support," the president continued, "we'll help vulnerable communities with early-warning systems, stronger defenses against storm surges, and climate-resilient infrastructure. We'll help farmers plant more durable crops. We'll help developing economies reduce their carbon pollution and invest in clean energy."

But combating climate change cannot be the work of governments alone," Obama insisted. "Citizens -- especially young people like you -- have to keep raising your voices, because you deserve to live your lives in a world that is cleaner and healthier."

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“By financing investments that help countries reduce carbon pollution and strengthen resilience to climate change, the GCF will help leverage public and private finance to avoid some of the most catastrophic risks of climate change,” the White House said in a fact sheet released shortly before Obama's speech. “By reducing those risks, the GCF will help promote smart, sustainable long-term economic growth and preserve stability and security in fragile regions of strategic importance to the United States.”

Earlier in the week, the U.S. and China struck a groundbreaking climate deal, which includes a commitment from China to halt emissions from growing after the year 2030. The U.S. plans to double its rate of carbon reduction from 1.2% a year through 2020 to 2.3-2.5% a year after that.

The White House said the United States’ $3 billion investment is largely intended to benefit the Green Climate Fund’s private-sector work, which focuses on entrepreneurs working to combat climate change. This arm of the fund also enlists private investment and business leaders sit on the fund’s board.

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Since Republicans made gains in both Congress and a number of statehouses across the country on Election Day, Obama has demonstrated he does not intend to become a lame-duck president during his last two years in office. Just a day after the elections, Obama reiterated his intention to take executive action on immigration reform before the end of the year if Congress does not act. The announcement has already fired up Republicans, some of whom have threatened to hold up a key government funding bill in an attempt to derail the president’s executive order.

Obama has also come out firmly on the side of net neutrality, which would ensure that Internet consumers would have equal access to content across the web. And finally, the White House has signaled the president would likely veto legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would run from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico transporting oil. The House voted Friday to approve the pipeline, setting it up for a Senate vote next week.

Benjamin Landy contributed reporting.