Investing in International Climate Action Benefits Americans

Continued investments in international climate action are in America’s interests as recognized by faith-based, business, security, and development groups. President Obama has made an additional contribution of $500 million to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), bringing the total U.S. contribution to $1 billion towards a $3 billion pledge. This investment protects Americans from the damages of climate change, creates opportunities for U.S. companies and workers to tap into the growing global clean energy market, and reduces the global instability caused by climate change.

This second U.S. contribution has received strong support from a diverse set of groups as they recognize the tangible benefits of this smart investment for America.

Protect Americans from the ravages of climate change

The impacts of climate change are already being felt in the U.S. and around the world. And they will become more severe if we don’t act aggressively on climate change. Minimizing these damages requires action both in the U.S. and abroad. Smart investments, such as the GCF, help spur action in other countries as they support developing countries in their commitments to reduce emissions by moving to low-carbon economies. This reduced pollution helps put us on a safer climate trajectory which minimizes the damages that will be faced by American farmers, ranchers, cities, business, children, grandchildren, and people of all walks of life.

Americans get this dynamic which is why the Chicago Council on Global Affairs found that 71 percent of Americans surveyed said that the U.S. should continue participating in the Paris agreement which enshrines climate action from all major countries. As Patrick Carolan of the Franciscan Action Network stated:

“As Pope Francis reminded us in his encyclical Laudato Si, it is going to take the full dedication of each of the world’s major polluters to ensure that we stop the debilitating effects of climate change…”

Spur global clean energy deployment, creating new markets for American companies and workers

As countries address climate change the global clean energy market is projected to be over $60 trillion over the coming decades, according to the International Energy Agency. According to a recent analysis there are 2.5 million jobs in the U.S. in the clean energy sector and these jobs are spread throughout the 50 states. Many of these companies export their technologies to other countries. As a result, global progress on clean energy deployment helps American companies and workers by creating new export opportunities. The GCF helps speed up these markets by working with key countries to develop tangible projects that will help transform markets for wind, solar, energy efficiency, and other clean energy opportunities around the world.

This benefit has been recognized by American-based companies that have supported U.S. contributions to the GCF. As the Business Council for Sustainable Energy put it:

“The U.S. support of these international funds creates new market opportunities for American clean energy companies and enables American businesses to provide U.S. technology and innovation to developing countries.”

Increase the resilience of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change, avoiding much larger costs

Countries around the world are already feeling the impacts from extreme weather events caused by climate change and these impacts will get worse if critical steps aren’t taken. The U.S. is always one of the first to respond to such disasters. Disaster response around the world shows that spending $1 today helps avoid around $7 of investments needed after the disaster hits. Upfront and early funding to assist countries in strengthening their resilience will help countries avoid damages from climate change.

Faith-based organizations recognize the impact of these investments as scores of religious and faith organizations wrote to Members of Congress urging them to support U.S. contributions to the GCF. As Rev. Dr. Ken Brooker Langston of the Disciples Center for Public Witness put it:

“With the resources to prepare for extreme weather, rising sea levels, drought, and other climate disruption, fewer people will find themselves in desperate situations.”

And  as Bill O’Keefe of the Catholic Relief Services put it:

This transfer of $500 million to the fund demonstrates our country’s ongoing compassion and commitment to the poor around the world. The Green Climate Fund is an important resource that helps communities in developing countries prepare for the ill effects of climate change, like increasing droughts that undermine the livelihoods of small farmers.”

Reduce national security threats from an unstable climate

The U.S. Department of Defense recognizes the global instability caused by climate change when it stated: “Global climate change will have wide-ranging implications for U.S. national security interests over the foreseeable future because it will aggravate existing problems…” By reducing the impacts of climate change and helping poor countries become more resilient to climate change, investments in the GCF also help to reduce the “threat multiplier” from climate change. As a leading national security organization, the American Security Project, stated:

“Funding the GCF will reduce climate vulnerabilities and increase the resources that partner countries can devote to deploying cleaner energy technologies. This is a smart, cost-effective ways to integrate our foreign policy, energy security, and national security goals.”


This contribution of $500 million from the U.S. to the GCF is a small investment that leverages even greater returns that will be measured in less lives lost, fewer damages to communities, and more economic opportunities. It is in America’s interest.

About the Authors

Jake Schmidt

Managing Director, International program

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