Press Release

The U.S. Should Raise its International Climate Finance to $12 Billion Per Year

Jake Thompson
jthompson@nrdc.org, 301-602-3627

Elizabeth Heyd
eheyd@nrdc.org, 202-813-8315

WASHINGTON – Leading aid, development, faith-based, and environmental groups today are urging the Biden Administration to commit to significantly increase the U.S. contribution in international climate finance, which would be used to protect vulnerable countries, spur greater climate action and persuade other countries to ante up more money for the global climate fight.

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), Oxfam America, The People's Justice Council, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Union of Concerned Scientists, Climate Reality Project, E3G and Sierra Club, with millions of supporters and members, called on the administration to commit to raise its international climate finance contribution to $12 billion per year by 2024 as a part of the effort to support the Paris agreement on climate change and “keep 1.5°C alive.”

They contend that a $12 billion annual contribution would bring the U.S. more in line with the efforts of other leading economies. After a summer of devastating weather events across the United States, supporting countries to curb climate pollution and become more resilient also is in our nation’s interest. In addition, the U.S., has a moral responsibility as a major contributor to climate change to lessen the burden it has passed on to countries who’ve done the least to cause the problem, they say.

The groups contend that by committing $12 billion annually to international climate finance, the U.S. would strengthen its leadership going into the COP26 global climate talks held in Glasgow, Scotland. The U.S. could work to persuade other countries to increase their climate finance pledges and encourage other major emitting countries to bring forward stronger 2030 targets to curb emissions driving climate change. 

The international finance effort is pivotal to provide low-income countries access to capital to transition to a low-carbon economy, to protect developing countries from climate impacts they cannot avoid, to slow tropical deforestation and reduce climate-changing pollution.

Developed countries committed to contribute $100 billion a year in international climate finance by 2020 but these countries are currently about $20 billion short of that annual goal. Recently, the European Union announced it will increase its international climate assistance by $4.7 billion through 2027, to more than $25 billion a year.

Earlier this year, President Biden pledged that the U.S. would raise its annual international finance contribution $5.4 billion – a doubling of the level at the end of 2016.

The groups are urging the Biden administration to commit to doubling that pledge to meet the moment and to have a chance of the world holding the rise of global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), which the world’s leading scientists say is needed to avoid the worst impacts from climate change.

The groups also note that by spending several extra billion dollars to support the international climate finance program, the U.S. can help avoid potentially hundreds of billions of dollars in damages in the U.S. and around the world from wildfires, rising seas, drought, floods and hurricanes—all magnified by climate change.

Statements from the groups' leaders follow.

Manish Bapna, president and CEO of NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), said: “While the pandemic and climate crises are upending life for everyone, in low-income countries and communities in the U.S. they’ve been nothing short of catastrophic. As one of the world’s wealthiest and most polluting countries, the U.S. has a moral responsibility to support countries with the least financial resources that are suffering the most from climate inaction. The Biden administration is advancing equity domestically with its Build Back Better agenda. By increasing the U.S. international climate finance commitment to at least $12 billion a year by 2024, we can join other wealthy countries to seize this historic opportunity to advance global equity.”

Abby Maxman, President and CEO of Oxfam America, said: “Increasing international climate finance, especially for adaptation, is essential to support the world’s most vulnerable communities who continue to bear the brunt of the climate crisis despite being the least responsible. The US must commit to a new international climate finance pledge of at least $12 billion per year by 2024 that is additional to development aid, aligns with the priorities of local communities and is flexible enough to meet the needs of those most vulnerable.”

Reverend Michael Malcom, MDiv MBA, Founder and Executive Director of The People's Justice Council, said: “The only way that we come out of this climate crisis is, together.  History and this crisis have proven that we can ill afford to leave anyone out of our plan of salvation. The US has an opportunity to show leadership in doing what is fair and just. As a faith leader in the Environmental Justice Movement, I am honored to support a plan that centers equity.”

Susan Gunn, director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, said: “Through decades of accompaniment, Maryknoll missioners- Catholic men and women- have witnessed the impacts of a changing climate on communities and ecosystems in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Even throughout the pandemic, Maryknoll missioners have continued to respond to people affected by fires, drought, and hurricanes. These climate-fueled disasters come with costs- economic and existential- that fall hardest on God’s creation and on communities and nations least able to respond. As the largest economy and largest historical emitter, the United States can and must do more to be part of the solution. A $12 Billion commitment to climate finance by 2024 would be a good down payment.”

Johanna Chao Kreilick, President, Union of Concerned Scientists, said: “Richer nations have fallen far short on their pledge to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries make a low-carbon transition and increase their resilience to climate change impacts. The United States must step up now to do its part and commit to at least $12 billion annually by 2024, with at least $3.3 ​billion appropriated ​this year. As the leading contributor to cumulative global warming emissions, the United States has a unique responsibility to sharply curtail heat-trapping emissions at home and help deliver much-needed climate finance. The science is clear: the climate crisis is unfolding in terrifying, costly and deadly ways worldwide and will only get worse if richer countries​, including the ​United States, fail to ​do what is required of them.”

Ken Berlin, President and CEO of The Climate Reality Project, said: “Climate-fueled wildfires, floods, and storms are the clearest signs yet that the climate crisis is reaching fever-pitch. As the wealthiest nation on Earth, the United States has a unique responsibility to not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions at home, but also increase its financial contributions to assist the world’s most vulnerable nations in adapting to the adverse effects of climate change and accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy. Leveraging our financial might and increasing annual climate finance assistance to $12 billion is an important step towards ensuring a just and equitable transition to a zero-carbon economy. We must recognize that we cannot pursue climate action without placing a focus on equity and justice at the center of our climate strategy – it’s time to take advantage of this key opportunity to demonstrate moral leadership, build global resiliency, and set an important example for other wealthy nations around the world.”  

Claire Healy, Director of the E3G Washington, DC office, said: “The US global reputation is on the line. In the post-Trump era and following recent events, many observers are questioning the strength of the US presence on the international stage. The US has an opportunity to reclaim its global leadership by providing international climate finance at least on par with its allies. Otherwise, how does the US credibly challenge China to go further, faster on climate action;  and champion a G7 “Build Back Better World” initiative? Both positions are contingent upon a strengthened US climate finance offer. Why wait?”

Ramón Cruz, Sierra Club President, said: “As one of the world’s wealthiest and most polluting countries, the U.S. must contribute its fair share by supporting the countries that have the least financial resources and face the worst impacts of the climate crisis. Now is the time to take bold action by increasing our contribution to $12 billion a year.  As a leader on the global stage, the U.S. must remain committed to the fight for a healthy climate built on a foundation of environmental, racial, economic, and gender justice — a future where all people benefit from a healthy thriving planet. The Sierra Club is prepared to continue to drive progress to help tackle the climate crisis and build back a stronger, clean energy economy for all.”

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NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC. 

Oxfam is a global organization that fights inequality to end poverty and injustice. We offer lifesaving support in times of crisis and advocate for economic justice, gender equality, and climate action. We demand equal rights and equal treatment so that everyone can thrive, not just survive. The future is equal. Join us at oxfamamerica.org.

The People's Justice Council is a collective of public theologians and social critics. We are a black led organization. We engage and equip communities with tools and access to build power from the grassroots up for change at the policy level.

The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns (MOGC) represents Maryknoll missioners, who are Catholic men and women serving in impoverished communities around the world. The MOGC provides analysis and advocacy on issues of justice, peace and the integrity of creation that affect the countries and communities where Maryknoll missioners serve.

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future. For more information, go to www.ucsusa.org

E3G is an independent European climate change think tank accelerating the transition to a climate safe world. E3G is made up of world leading strategists on the political economy of climate change, dedicated to achieving a safe climate for all. More information is available at www.e3g.org on Twitter @e3g.

The Sierra Club is the most enduring and influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. We amplify the power of our 3.8 million members and supporters to defend everyone’s right to a healthy world. 

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