With just a few days left until the world must deliver a binding climate agreement, United States Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the conference of climate leaders in Paris with news intended to increase momentum of the talks. Secretary Kerry announced he would double the U.S. commitment to support efforts in most vulnerable nations and communities to more than $800 million through the Green Climate Fund, an international fund dedicated to helping communities adapt and become more resilient to the future impacts of climate change.
“We need to be accountable to one another, to the next generation, and to the generation after that,” said Secretary Kerry.
The announcement came just hours before the latest version of the climate agreement draft was released. One major sticking point at this point in the negotiations is about inclusion of “loss and damage” in the agreement. Loss and damage is the concept that no matter the best attempts at adapting existing communities to the impacts of climate change, there are some places such as small island nations and low-lying coastal regions that will be so devastated by climate change that they will never be able to adapt. For this reason, those most vulnerable populations are asking for liability and compensation for the loss and damage experienced there.
While inspirational, Secretary Kerry’s announcement only addresses adaptation to climate change and not loss and damage. From the perspective of the U.S., the pledge in any amount must still be passed and disbursed through Congress, a feat that will require less diplomacy and more loud support from the public. In reaction to the announcement, leaders from the climate movement were confident yet vigilant about the doubled Green Climate Fund pledge.
“The American people have made it clear that they have the Obama Administration’s back as they lead the way to secure an agreement in Paris, so Secretary Kerry and our negotiating team are absolutely right to ignore the pointless posturing of Congressional Republicans and their fossil fuel industry allies,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “The Obama Administration’s leadership on climate is growing more steadfast by the day, and we are confident that this pledge will be delivered. That’s what the American people have made clear that they want and what the world needs.”
The U.S.’s pledge to the Green Climate Fund is certainly a signal that the U.S. is serious about a strong agreement, but there is still far to go in the next few days as nations debate other issues such as human rights and equity for marginalized groups, a new global average temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius, accountability for emissions reductions, and the inclusion of loss and damage.