In shift, Trump admin plans to pay climate dues

In a reversal from its position last year, the Trump administration has proposed paying U.N. climate dues as part of its fiscal 2019 State Department budget.

The budget proposal released on Monday would provide a total of $6.4 million to pay U.S. dues to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and its scientific arm, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a State Department official told E&E News. The number is not explicitly mentioned in the budget documents released by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.

The official said the allocation would “enable the U.S. to effectively advance its interests in these bodies, and to reflect an approach that balances energy security, economic development, and environmental protection.”

This comes after President Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget plan zeroed out funding for all U.N. climate programs, stating that in doing so Trump was making good on a “promise” not to spend U.S. tax dollars advancing U.N. climate objectives. That prohibition included UNFCCC and IPCC dues, as well as a much more significant allocation for the U.N. Green Climate Fund, which provides aid to help poor countries reduce their own emissions and shore up defenses to climate change.

The GCF funding ban still stands, and the United States has fallen $2 billion short of the $3 billion pledge President Obama made to the fund. But moderate Senate Republicans joined with Democratic appropriators last September to amend appropriations legislation in committee to reinsert funding for dues to the UNFCCC and IPCC. The Senate language is expected to survive negotiations with the House next month, allowing the State Department to pay its dues for fiscal 2018.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) sponsored the amendment to pay U.N. climate dues last year in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“The Trump administration hardly deserves enormous applause for fulfilling the most basic and minimal commitments of our international agreements, but at least we’re avoiding the embarrassment of becoming a complete deadbeat on the world stage,” said Merkley’s spokesman, Raymond Zaccaro.