Obama steals the show at G20, but may face heat at home

By Editor


At G20 in Brisbane, Australia, President Obama committed $US3 billion to the new international fund that aims to support the world’s poorest countries while Japan said it would devote $US1.5 billion.

The climate fund has set a target to raise $US10-15 billion by the end of the month. Earlier at least 10 countries, including France, Germany and South Korea, had pledged a total of around $3 billion to the fund. Total commitment so far stands about $US8 billion.

At Copenhagen climate change in 2009, Hillary Rodham Clinton, then the secretary of state, pledged that by 2020 the United States would help mobilize $100 billion, through a combination of public aid and private investments.

While Obama’s climate friendly measures are lauded globally, they are being criticized at home. American taxpayers will bear the brunt of the foreign aid as well as the climate funds allocation within the country.  Republicans have been criticizing Obama’s domestic climate policies as “job-killing” regulations. The latest foreign aid is likely to invite sharp criticism from Republicans. Obama has not made it clear whether $3 billion pledge will come from existing sources of funding, or he will have to ask Congress to appropriate the money.

Commenting on Obama’s decision to cut the state’s emission by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025, Speaker John A. Boehner said, “This announcement is yet another sign that the president intends to double down on his job-crushing policies no matter how devastating the impact for America’s heartland and the country as a whole.”

Obama’s commitment to poor nations is expected to spur the commitment from other countries as well. World leaders expect that such financial commitment is crucial part for the success of the climate change deal in Paris in 2015.

Obama’s commitment comes soon after the U.S and China signed a non-binding deal to cooperate on climate issues. As part of the agreement, China has agreed to peak carbon emissions by around 2030, with the intention to try to peak early and increase the non-fossil share of all energy to around 20 percent by 2030, while the U.S announced new target to cut net greenhouse gas emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.


Also read: U.S-China climate deal: a move to trap India?

Since 2010, the Obama administration has spent about $2.5 billion to help poor countries develop clean energy sources to fight climate change.

During the first term, Obama Administration has invested more than $80 billion in clean energy technologies under the recovery program, establishing historic fuel economy standards, doubling solar and wind electricity, and implementing ambitious energy efficiency measures, said a statement from White House.

Early in his second term, President Obama launched an ambitious Climate Action Plan focused on cutting carbon pollution, preparing the nation for climate impacts, and leading internationally.

In June 2014 EPA proposed guidelines for existing power plants in June 2014 that would reduce power sector emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 while delivering $55-93 billion in net benefits from improved public health and reduced carbon pollution.

In February 2014, President Obama directed EPA and the Department of Transportation to issue the next phase of fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by March 2016.

The Department of Energy set a goal of reducing carbon pollution by 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030 through energy conservation standards issued during this Administration. These measures will also cut consumers’ annual electricity bills by billions of dollars.

EPA, along with other agencies are taking actions to cut methane emissions from landfills, coal mining, agriculture, and oil and gas systems through cost-effective voluntary actions and common-sense standards.

In the new agreement with China, the U.S agreed to expand joint Clean Energy Research and Development that include extending the CERC mandate for an additional five years from 2016-2020; Renewing funding for the three existing tracks: building efficiency, clean vehicles, and advanced coal technologies with carbon capture, use and sequestration (CCUS); and launching a new track on the interaction of energy and water (the energy/water ‘nexus’).

Both countries will also advance major carbon capture, use and storage demonstrations, enhance cooperation on hydroflurocarbons, launch a climate-smart/low-carbon cities initiative, promote trade in green goods and promote trade in green goods.

U.S. DOE, State, and USTDA will undertake a number of collaborative initiatives to promote China’s energy efficiency and renewable energy goals.  These will include expansion of cooperation on “smart grids” that enable efficient and cost-effective integration of renewable energy technology, as well as the implementation through a U.S. and Chinese private sector commercial agreement of a first-of-its-kind 380 MW concentrating solar plant in China.


Rajani Baburajan

[email protected]

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