U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to pledge $3 billion for the Green Climate Fund. Photo by: The White House

Days after his party suffered a body blow in the U.S. midterm elections, President Barack Obama seems intent on avoiding lame-duck status.

Multiple news outlets are reporting that Obama will pledge $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, a resource pool for projects that contribute to the goals of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, during his trip to Brisbane, Australia, this weekend for the summit of  G-20 leaders.

An official GCF pledge meeting will take place in Berlin on Thursday, formally concluding the fund’s initial resource mobilization process. But significant commitments have already started rolling in, including during September’s U.N. General Assembly and climate summit in New York; more are expected in the coming days.

“This week has breathed new life into global climate action,” said World Resources Institute President and CEO Andrew Steer. “Building on the landmark U.S.-China climate agreement, this pledge signifies that the U.S. is serious about delivering a global climate agreement.”

The expected U.S. pledge comes as world leaders gear up for next month’s 20th Conference of Parties in Lima, Peru, and more significantly, as leaders prepare their positions ahead of the COP21 in Paris next year, where delegates will seek to hash out a global climate agreement to curb emissions and fund adaptation in developing countries.

The Green Climate Fund is part of that equation — and it provides a model for how decision making and resource allocation might be distributed among developed and developing countries.

“I think the great thing about the Green Climate Fund is that it has balanced governance between developed and developing countries,” Alex Doukas, research analyst at WRI’s Finance Center, told Devex.

While some multilateral funding institutions — the World Bank, in particular — face difficult questions about leadership and how decision-making power is distributed on climate-related issues, the Green Climate Fund “has gone through a lot of those growing pains already,” Doukas said.

Supporters are still waiting for other significant contributions to the fund to materialize — notably from the United Kingdom — and Doukas pointed out that none of the potential implementing entities have yet been accredited for GCF funding, which will require that they be evaluated against the fund’s social and environmental safeguards policies, among other steps.

Obama’s visit to Brisbane comes amidst a whirlwind trip to Asia and the Pacific. The president is currently in Myanmar for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit, and the White House reiterated Thursday that climate change is among the president’s top priorities.

“We’ll be talking to ASEAN countries … about how we can work together heading into the Paris process next year to reach an international climate agreement,” said Ben Rhodes, the U.S. deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, in a press briefing.

“I think you’ll see climate change continue to be an area of focus throughout the president’s trip here,” Rhodes added.

What steps should the Obama administration take to address climate change — and how may those actions affect the global development community?

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About the author

  • Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.