Something big happened last Thursday in the Senate Appropriations Committee. But if you blinked, you might have missed it. It was a bipartisan vote in favor of international climate action through a vote in support of a new multilateral fund called the Green Climate Fund. 

Sure, this past week was chock-full of attacks against climate science and the validity of international climate action in other hearings, but this was a reasonable bipartisan vote that stripped harmful language from the bill that would have made it difficult for US dollars to flow to the Fund. The amendment was cosponsored by Sens. Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirk (R-Ill.), Durbin (D-Ill.) and Feinstein (D-Calif.) and supported by Sens. Collins (R-Maine), Leahy (D-Vt.), Udall (D-N.M.) and others.   


There are lots of sound reasons to support the Fund, most importantly as a vehicle to help poor and vulnerable communities adapt to the realities of a changing climate and to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Just last month, a group of former treasury officials penned an op-ed in this publication speaking to the importance of the Fund in protecting U.S. national security interests and in supporting economic development globally. They pointed out that the Fund builds on a longstanding history of U.S. bipartisan leadership on climate finance and on the importance of the Fund in leveraging private sector investment. 

The president’s $500 million Fiscal Year 2016 budget request to the Green Climate Fund represents a mere one hundredth of one percent of the Federal annual budget. This would be the first of likely four payments to the Fund, totaling $3 billion. In relation to the U.S.’s annual GDP, it’s a miniscule amount of money and the bare minimum that the U.S. should be contributing. Currently, more than 30 countries, including developing countries, have already made commitments to the Fund in the spirit of promoting human security and investing in business growth opportunities. 

This vote in the Senate is an encouraging sign that support for international climate action is strong – and growing. The Pope’s recent encyclical on the environment and climate change has rallied the faith community in urging for action on climate change and is evidence of this momentum. Just this month, a letter from 29 national religious organizations and more than 50 regional religious organizations was delivered to legislators supporting the Fund and echoing the call to address the impacts of climate change on the poorest among us.  

Climate change will affect all of us, and all of us will need to take action to prevent the most dangerous impacts. As momentum continues to grow with more and more countries stepping up to do their part, it’s critical that we continue to push for strong U.S. leadership to help build a more sustainable and secure world, benefiting us all and generations to come.

Coleman is Climate Change Policy manager at Oxfam America.