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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

US Congress considers bill to abolish funding to IPCC, UNFCCC, Green Climate Fund

Abolition of Funding for IPCC, UNFCCC, Green Climate Fund is the target of Bill HR 673 introduced into U.S. Congress on January 24, 2017. Currently the bill is referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Transition advisor Myron Ebell, at a talk of the Global Warming Policy Foundation in the UK, was adamant that Trump wants to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, despite Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying it would be advantageous to have a place at the negotiating table.

Strangley, Ebell has never spoken to President Trump, and now seems to be out of the loop altogether.

He outlined three major ways Trump might withdraw US participation from the Paris climate agreement.

Ebell argued that in the first instance, the president can simply stop any US financial contributions to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and that all US funding to the UNFCCC, including to the Green Climate Fund, represents a violation of US law ever since Palestine was accepted as a UNFCCC member. Secondly, Trump might request the US Congress to reject the Paris agreement on the basis that legally it is a treaty and does not qualify as an executive presidential order. Thirdly, Trump could withdraw the US from the UNFCCC altogether.

The bill in Congress would seem to be the embodiment of stopping all funding for the IPCC, UNFCCC and the Green Climate Fund.

Executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Patricia Espinosa in a statement warned US President Donald Trump that pulling out of the Paris climate accord was not in the nation's best interest.

"Ultimately, this is about the competitiveness of the United States," said Espinosa in an interview.

Prior to the election Donald Trump called climate change a Chinese hoax and threatened to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement.

"We do not know what he will do - all we know so far is that his stance differs from that of the Obama administration," Espinosa said.

There is also a draft executive order to cut general and specific funding to the United Nations and specific programs. This might cut at least 40 percent from the contributions the U.S. currently makes to the UN. The draft executive order calls for a conditional review of U.S. foreign funding, including a “special review of funding” for the U.N. Population Fund and development aid that “oppose, more than support, policies across the United Nations.” See Devex (27 Jan 2017) Why Trump's draft executive order to slash UN funding should be treated seriously, though with caution.

"Whether or not the administration intends to withdraw from the framework or Paris, it does not appear that either of these executive orders are designed to do that," said a former member of the transition.

The order that halts U.S. dues to the United Nations wouldn't necessarily result in ending U.S. membership in the framework convention. But if the United States quits that body, its participation in the Paris Agreement would end simultaneously.

So the Bill and these two executive orders are tackling US participation in the United Nations and UNFCCC as a funding issue, essentially keeping open at this stage ongoing commitment under the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement and a seat at the negotiating table.

The questions then arise, what sort of behaviour could be expected of the United States in negotiations?

Would blocking progress be a common form? Would the US become an obstructionist player?

What would this do for development of the Paris Agreement rulebook that is set for completion by COP24 in 2018?

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