The Biden administration said it is going to spend $3 billion to help less developed economies address the impact of climate change, including more than $400 million to advance “gender equity” in those countries.
The announcement comes as Vice President Kamala Harris, speaking on Saturday at the United Nations’ annual climate summit in Dubai, urged rich countries to “do more” to keep pace with an agenda of preventing the global temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“The U.S. is committed to expanding international climate finance,” the vice president said. “I am proud to announce a new $3 billion pledge to the Green Climate Fund to help developing countries access capital to invest in resilience, clean energy, and nature-based solutions.”
The Green Climate Fund was created by the United Nations in 2010 with a goal to finance developing countries’ transition away from burning fossil fuels and building infrastructure to adapt to climate change. About 65 percent of the Fund’s current $13.5 portfolio comes from the public sector.
In 2014, the administration of former President Barack Obama pledged to put $3 billion into the Fund. Citing the unfair economic burden imposed on American taxpayers by climate goals dictated by the Paris Climate Agreement, President Donald Trump in 2017 ceased the implementation of several Obama-era commitments and, as a result, withheld the remaining $2 billion of the $3 billion pledge.
The Trump administration formally withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement in November 2020, only to have the succeeding Biden administration rejoin the accord a few months later.
In her speech on Saturday, Vice President Harris accused people skeptical of the global climate agenda of trying to “slow or stop our progress.”
“Continued progress will not be possible without a fight,” she said. “Around the world, there are those who seek to slow or stop our progress: leaders who deny climate science, delay climate action, and spread misinformation; corporations that greenwash their climate inaction and lobby for billions of dollars in fossil fuel subsidies.”
“We must have the ambition to meet this moment, to accelerate our ongoing work, increase our investments, and lead with courage and conviction,” she stated.
Harris Promotes Gender Equity Amid Climate ChangeThose investments, according to a “fact sheet” released Saturday by the White House, include $1.4 Billion for the “Women in the Sustainable Economy (WISE)” initiative launched in November by Ms. Harris.
The stated goal of the initiative is to bolster “women’s economic participation” in fields such as “clean energy, fisheries, recycling, forest management, and environmental conservation,” the White House said.
The initiative would provide $449 million for new programs such as “Global Girls Creating Change,” a program that seeks to give 900 girls and young women in 29 different countries “professional opportunities in the sustainable economy,” with “focused efforts” in Brazil, Indonesia, Nepal, and Uganda.
Biden Envoy Commits to Stop Building Coal PlantsJohn Kerry, President Biden’s top climate diplomat, also attended the Dubai summit, announcing that the United States will not be building any new coal-burning plants while retiring the existing ones.
“To meet our goal of 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035, we need to phase out unabated coal, and we urge the world to join us in doing so while working to grow good-paying clean energy jobs,” Mr. Kerry said in a statement.
Mr. Kerry said the United States will join the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA), a pact formed in 2017 by nearly 50 countries that have promised to accelerate the total phase-out of coal-fired power stations—an effort deemed necessary to realize the agenda of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Others joining Saturday include the Czech Republic and the Dominican Republic.
“Together with the Powering Past Coal Alliance, we will be working to accelerate unabated coal phase-out across the world, building stronger economies and more resilient communities,” he added. “The first step is to stop making the problem worse: stop building new unabated coal power plants.”
Mr. Kerry has yet to give a detailed timetable on when the last coal-burning plants would be shut down, although the PPCA’s website shows that the United States promises to complete the phase-out “after 2025.”
Between 2012 and 2021, an average of 9,450 MW of U.S. coal-fired capacity was retired each year, according to a November 2022 report from the U.S. Department of Energy. The pace of planned coal-fired retirements slows down after 2022 and continues to be focused on relatively older facilities.
“Coal-fired generators—especially older, less efficient units—face higher operating and maintenance costs, which make them less competitive and more likely to retire,” the department said. “In addition, some coal-fired power plants must comply with regulations limiting the discharge of wastewater by 2028, which would require additional capital investment, likely influencing the decision to retire some of these coal-fired units.”