Just one month from the inauguration of Donald Trump and the appointment of his cabinet of climate deniers, an international coalition of human rights and environmental groups is appealing to President Obama to take one final action to advance justice and action on climate change in spite of Trump.
117 organizations — including 350.org, Women Donors Network, and Center for International Environmental Law, led by Corporate Accountability International — delivered the call from more than 70,000 people to the Obama Administration to fulfill the U.S.’s commitment to the U.N. climate treaty’s Green Climate Fund (GCF), a key aspect of the historic Paris agreement, which aims to keep global warming “well below” 2ºC. Established as part of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the fund is seen as a primary vehicle to bring both rich and poor countries to the negotiating table. In 2014, the U.S. committed $3 billion to the GCF — but to date has only transferred $500 million
“This is one of the only things Obama can do now that Trump can’t undo,” Jesse Bragg from Corporate Accountability International, told The Guardian. “Once those funds are transferred, Trump won’t be able to take them back.”
President-elect Trump has made climate denial and advancing the fossil fuel industry’s agenda a central focus of his impending administration. Last week, Trump nominated a series of climate deniers to his cabinet, including Rex Tillerson, current chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil, to Secretary of State; and Scott Pruitt, who is known for suing the Environmental Protection Agency, to direct that very agency.
“Donald Trump’s administration will be of, by, and for the fossil fuel industry, and if we don’t act now, millions will suffer,” said Tamar Lawrence-Samuel of Corporate Accountability International. “President Obama must do whatever it takes to fulfill the U.S.’ commitment to the Green Climate Fund before Donald Trump and his Big Oil cabinet take over.”
The demand of the Obama Administration is part of a global movement of environmental and human rights groups to protect an international commitment made by the U.S. and resist Trump’s opposition to climate policy, human rights and equity during his term. Not only do most of his cabinet appointments have long histories of dismantling and attacking environmental policies, they also own more wealth than one-third of Americans combined and owe much of it to years in the upper echelons of corporate America, confirming the fears of many that this administration will represent only the interests of corporations and the wealthy.
But a Trump administration doesn’t necessarily mean the end for a clean-energy future: Cities around the world have continued to plow ahead on their own initiatives – Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Melbourne, New York City, Oslo, San Francisco, Stockholm, Sydney, Washington, DC and Rio de Janeiro have their own ambitious climate-action plans; and the C40 announced earlier this month that Mexico City, Athens and Paris have committed to eliminating diesel vehicles by 2025, as part of an effort by mayors to improve the quality of air for citizens. And of course, the private sector can and will play a huge role in meeting the goals set out by the Paris agreement. Initiatives aimed at reducing environmental impacts associated with the production of goods continue to emerge from the business world — with hundreds of companies setting science-based emissions-reduction targets, Bill Gates and his fellow billionaires launching a $1 billion investment fund aimed at fighting climate change through clean energy innovation, and even oil giant Shell considering linking executive bonuses to GHG emissions management.