Trump Proposes Reckless Budget Cuts to Global Climate Action

The Trump administration has just released its full 2018 budget proposal. Similar to his “starvation” budget released two months ago, Trump’s full budget proposal displays a reckless abandon for our country, our planet and future generations.

Trump’s budget proposal seeks to eliminate nearly all international investments in climate change and clean energy -- cutting vital programs that protect the most vulnerable from climate impacts while scaling low-carbon solutions that will create cleaner jobs in America and abroad. The proposed budget cuts eliminate programs that not only help countries implement climate-friendly projects, but help to make the global climate safer for all countries, including the United States.

Fortunately, the White House budget proposal is just that — a proposal. Congress has the final say in appropriating money based on the values and preferences of the American people. And even Republicans like Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell believe Trump’s cuts to our international budget are counterproductive. McConnell has stated publicly that he expects the Republican-led  Congress to ignore Trump’s cuts to foreign aid and the State Department budget, stating that “the diplomacy part of what we do overseas is a lot cheaper than the use of the military and frequently has a pretty good return on investment.”

Cutting investments in climate action -- which represent less than 0.04 percent of the federal budget -- requires justifications. The ugly truth is that the Trump budget justifications are as flimsy as they are reckless. The White House budget states outright that these cuts are primarily about fulfilling reckless political promises made during the campaign, not about proposing a budget that will produce the most benefit for all Americans:

The President promised during his campaign, and pledged in his "Contract with the American Voter," to cease payments to the United Nations' climate change programs. By proposing to eliminate funding in 2018 related to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and its two precursor Climate Investment Funds (CIFs), the Budget fulfills that pledge. -- from White House Budget.

Important Investments in Climate Action That Are Targeted for Elimination

The proposed budget eliminates all funding for the Global Climate Change Initiative and all bilateral activities for addressing climate change that are undertaken by the State Department and USAID. This includes elimination of contributions for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Green Climate Fund and the Clean Investment Funds started by George W. Bush.

In FY2016, the United States fulfilled existing pledges for the Clean Technology Fund and the Strategic Climate Fund under the Climate Investment Funds. Unfortunately, Trump’s budget eliminates any plans for future contributions. Programs under the CIFs include the following:

  • The Strategic Climate Fund (SCF) is a suite of three programs under the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) to pilot innovative approaches and scaled-up activities aimed at addressing specific climate change-related challenges in developing countries.
    • Programs under the SCF include the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR), which supports activities to improve resilience to climate change impacts in poor countries;
    • the Forest Investment Program (FIP), which supports the protection of forests in developing countries through improved governance and forest management and by addressing the drivers of deforestation;
    • and the Program for Scaling Up Renewable Energy in Low Income Countries (SREP), which supports clean energy projects to demonstrate their viability in poor countries.
  • The Clean Technology Fund (CTF) is a program under the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) that aims to catalyze large-scale low-emission private and public investments in key developing country sectors by financing the incremental costs of commercially available cleaner technologies over conventional alternatives.

The White House also plans to eliminate funding for the Global Climate Finance Facility under the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and to significantly reduce funding for the Global Environment Facility.

Taken together, these proposed cuts to U.S. contributions towards global climate initiatives are reckless, unfair relative to the contributions of other nations, and a hindrance to America’s ability to open new markets for American clean energy exports. These haphazard cuts limit the development of jobs in the most innovative parts of our economy, while increasing the vulnerability of the United States and other nations to unnecessary climate risks. Hopefully, lawmakers will continue to insist that Trump's budget will be "dead on arrival." 

About the Authors

Han Chen

International Climate Advocate, International and Climate & Clean Air programs

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