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Defying Trump, Senate panel approves funding for U.N. climate body

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump announces his decision that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee passed a spending bill on Thursday evening that includes $10 million to help fund the United Nations’ climate change body that oversees the Paris Climate Agreement, despite President Donald Trump’s decision to stop funding it.

The 30-member Senate panel, which allocates federal funds to various government agencies and organizations, approved a $51 billion spending bill for the State Department and foreign operations, which included an amendment to continue funding the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change as well as the scientific body the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The amendment passed even though the 2018 budget proposal that Trump, a Republican, introduced earlier this year eliminated support of any mechanism to finance climate change projects in developing countries and organizations.

The United States is still a party to the 1992 UNFCCC, which oversees the Paris agreement, although Trump announced in June that he would withdraw the nation from the global climate pact and cease funding the Green Climate Fund, which supports clean energy and climate adaptation projects in vulnerable countries.

The United States has usually contributed to around 20 percent of the UNFCCC budget.

Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, the amendment’s author, said on Twitter on Thursday: “Despite @RealDonaldTrump’s dangerous #ParisAgreement decision & unwillingness to act, we can & will fight back to combat #climatedisruption.”

The amendment passed 16-14. Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee voted in favor, as did all committee Democrats except for West Virginia’s Joe Manchin.

Although the United States announced it would no longer be a party to the Paris Climate Agreement, a pact that nearly 200 countries approved in 2015 to combat global warming, it has said it will continue to observe the ongoing negotiations.

In a diplomatic cable that Reuters obtained last month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said U.S. diplomats should sidestep questions from foreign governments on how the United States plans re-engage in the global Paris climate agreement.

The cable also said diplomats should make clear that the United States wants to help other countries use fossil fuels, which have been linked to global warming.

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