US pledges to double climate funding for poor countries

US pledges to double climate funding for poor countries
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Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryFrustrated Dems say Obama botched Russia response Budowsky: Dems madder than hell Tillerson: 'My view didn’t change' on Paris climate agreement MORE pledged Wednesday that the United States will double its spending on climate change grants for developing nations. 

In a speech at the United Nations climate change conference in Paris, Kerry said the U.S. will look to spend up to $860 million in grant-based funding for developing countries by 2020. 

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The U.S. currently spends about $400 million on climate change mitigation efforts for those countries, funding that goes toward infrastructure improvements, agriculture and health and water programs. 

“We will not leave the most vulnerable nations among us to, quite literally, weather the storm alone,” Kerry said. 

The grant funding is the latest climate finance measure the Obama administration has proposed as part of the current negotiations over an international climate change deal. 

Obama is looking for $3 billion for a new Green Climate Fund for developing countries around the world. 

Kerry noted that the U.S. already spends around $2.5 billion on climate finance annually. International private sector funding for climate projects, he said, has reached $650 billion a year.

In his speech, Kerry endorsed work toward a strong climate change deal during this week’s climate conference. He said the U.S. would join the “high ambition coalition,” a group of countries pushing for a long-term deal on combating climate change. 

Officials released another draft copy of a climate deal on Wednesday, and negotiators hope to reach a final agreement by the end of the week. 

“We didn’t come to Paris to build a ceiling,” he said. “We came to build a floor on which we can and must continue to build.”

Green groups mostly endorsed Kerry’s pledges and his address in Paris on Wednesday. 

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said the climate finance pledge “helps fulfill the moral obligation we have to aid those directly affected by the carbon pollution disproportionately created in developed countries that is disproportionately affecting developing countries."

“It is both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do, as extreme weather generates instability and insecurity in communities at home and abroad."

Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp said the announcement is “equitable and fair.”

But the Friends of the Earth said the United States still needs to do more to address global climate change, both when it comes to financing and reducing carbon emissions.

“Secretary Kerry wants the Paris agreement to be a floor for the future,” said Erich Pica, the group’s U.S. president. “It will not be stable without a firm commitment to fair shares, justice and common but differentiated responsibility.”