October 28, 2016

U.S. Proposes Doubling Spending On Climate-Change Adaptation

John Kerry’s announcement came as the momentum toward a deal appeared to have hit a momentary snag. (AFP File Photo)

|The New York Times|
LE BOURGET, FRANCE:  In an effort to help smooth the passage of a sweeping new climate accord here this week, Secretary of State John Kerry announced Wednesday a proposal to double its grant-based public finance for climate-change adaptation by 2020 to $860 million, from $430 million.

Kerry’s announcement came as the momentum toward a deal appeared to have hit a momentary snag. Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister who is presiding over the talks, delayed by two hours a self-imposed 1 p.m. deadline to release a new draft of the international agreement that negotiators here have been haggling over for more than a week. Kerry oversees the U.S. negotiating team, which is led by Todd D. Stern, the U.S. special envoy for climate change.

The issue of money has been a crucial sticking point in the talks, as developing countries demand that richer countries open up their wallets to help pay for them to adapt to the ravages of climate change, such as increased floods and droughts.

Observers said the announcement appeared explicitly intended to give a boost to the stalled climate talks.

China and India are resisting a push by the United States to create an aggressive outside monitoring system for emissions, and to require countries to come back to the table every five years with more stringent pollution reduction plans.

“The doubling of public commitments for adaptation is a very helpful development as we head into the final days in Paris,” said Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute.

At the last major United Nations climate conference, in 2009, Kerry’s predecessor, Hillary Clinton, sought to push the talks forward with a surprise announcement that rich countries would mobilize $100 billion annually by 2020 to help poorer countries mitigate and adapt to the ravages of climate change.

The new money announced by Kerry would be meant to count toward that $100 billion – but the relatively small amount would not come close to meeting the demands of developing nations.

Kerry made a fierce call for action: “Unless the global community takes bold steps now to transition away from a high-carbon economy,” he said, “we are facing unthinkable harm to our habitat, our infrastructure, our food production, our water supplies and, potentially, to life itself.”

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