Policy Experts Say U.S. Budget Cuts Will Slow Progress on Climate Change

Written by Lisa Hayden on . Posted in Learn, The Wonk Room

Just when U.S. leadership is most desperately needed to spur forward coordination between nations on climate change, the U.S. government is cutting funding for this work.

An article in today’s New York Times recounts how the newly passed budget will affect various climate change programs at the federal and state levels.

The Nature Conservancy’s own Eric Haxthausen, director for U.S. climate policy, is quoted about what the cutbacks mean for efforts between groups of countries to tackle the climate problem. He notes that while the cuts could have been worse, they still represent a setback.

The budget deal “does pull back on international climate investments at a time when they should be growing and when the administration had planned for them to be growing,” Haxthausen is quoted in the Times. “That’s unfortunate.”

For example, the Clean Technology Fund, which supports developing countries by providing low-carbon energy and transportation technologies, will get about $235 million this fiscal year — a drop from $375 million in fiscal 2010. And a World Bank forest investment program will see funding drop from a proposed $95 million to about $50 million.

Another cut eliminated funds for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s plan to reorganize relevant programs into a climate service.

Following United Nations meetings in Bangkok last week,  more international climate talks are scheduled throughout 2011 in an effort to hash out differences between groups of nations in areas of climate financing, incentives for forest conservation and support for efforts to adapt to climate change.

The New York Times article noted that U.S. negotiators had reaffirmed a commitment to aiding developing countries less than five months ago at global climate talks in Cancún, Mexico. Continued erosion of U.S. funding for climate change is unlikely to be welcomed by nations who already view developed economies as bearing a large responsibility for the historic carbon emissions causing the problem.

Now that the U.S. government finally has a budget for the current fiscal year, wrangling over the 2012 budget has begun, with more fireworks over environmental funding likely.  Stay tuned to Planet Change for updates on how you can support action on climate change.

Lisa Hayden is climate change writer for The Nature Conservancy

Photo by: Flickr® user DFID – UK Department for International Development/ Rafiqur Rahman Raqu; (Villagers across Satkhira, Khulna, Bangladesh – where many people say there used to be six seasons but now there are only four – attend workshops funded by the Department for International Development to learn why the environment around them is changing – and how they can adapt to survive) Used under a Creative Commons license.

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Planet Change is a Nature Conservancy blog site designed to share stories about actions the Conservancy and others around the world are taking to fight carbon pollution and the impacts of climate change, and to help people feel the connections between climate change and their daily lives and understand actions they can take.

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