Energy & Environment

Senate panel votes to fund UN climate agency

A Senate committee voted Thursday to contribute $10 million to the United Nations' climate change agency.

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 16 to 14 to approve an amendment by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) to restore funding for the U.N.'s Framework Convention on Climate Change in the State Department appropriations bill.

The payments that the United States had made annually since joining the convention in 1992 had been slated to be eliminated.

Merkley said at the committee meeting Thursday to vote on the bill that the amendment "fits in with Secretary [Rex] Tillerson's desire that we both continue to monitor the changes in the world's climate and that we keep a seat at the table."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) also spoke in support of the amendment.

"This is important," she said. "You know, the world's at risk."

The U.N. agency is responsible for international climate agreements like the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. The United States never joined Kyoto, and President Trump pledged earlier this year to pull out of Paris.

Trump called for an end to U.N. climate funding in his first budget proposal earlier this year. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney called that and other climate change funding wasteful.

"As to climate change, I think the president was fairly straightforward - we're not spending money on that anymore; we consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that," Mulvaney said.

The House's version of the State funding bill does not fund the U.N. climate agency, so the two chambers will have to negotiate regarding the final outcome.

All of the Senate Appropriations Committee's Democrats voted for the Merkley amendment except Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.). They were joined by Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and Susan Collins (Maine). Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) did not vote. 

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