President Obama just announced that the US will pledge up to $3 billion over the next four years to help poor countries adapt to climate change. The move comes days after the president signed a historic accord with China in a bid to cut emissions, and the funds will enable nations to invest in clean energy and cope with rising seas and extreme weather.

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The White House will not be giving out the money condition-free – the funds will only be given if other G20 countries make similar pledges. The US will only donate 30% of the fund if it meets its target of $10 billion. While this may seem generous, it takes the approach of ‘throwing money at the problem,’ rather than taking decisive action against climate change – but it could enable poorer countries to invest in clean energy rather than fossil fuels.

Speaking to The Guardian, Alex Doukas, an international climate policy analyst at the World Resources Institute said: “I think it’s a good signal for unlocking the negotiations for Paris in 2015.” The US hopes its pledge will spur the UK and Japan to do the same over the course of the Brisbane-based G20 summit. Canada and Australia have already said they won’t contribute. Australia has been making headlines recently over its desire to embrace fossil fuels to encourage job growth despite public opposition.

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The president’s announcement is a strong sign that he’s hoping to build on the progress his administration has made and do as much as possible before his second term ends. “He is seizing the opportunities that come his way to demonstrate to the world that the US is not going to backtrack on the progress he has made for the last five years,” said Pete Ogden, a former White House adviser who is now the international climate and energy director at the Centre for American Progress.

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“I think this is certainly about him showing that he is making no apologies for helping to build up an effective domestic climate policy and he is making no apologies for wanting to help lead global efforts to combat climate change. People around the world look at us and see what happened in the mid-terms. If they had any reason for concern that he would be diminished, I think the evidence of the last couple of days is going to put that to rest.”

The president will face opposition at home as congress will have to authorize the funds. Seeing as many in the Republican-strong congress still don’t believe in climate change, this could prove problematic.

Via The Guardian

Images: John Gillespie and chesapeakeclimate