Trump spreads coal policy to US aid

Donald Trump doesn't want clean coal just in the US. He plans to take it global. And he's started by putting strings on the $1bn Barrack Obama gave to Paris accord on global warming.

Donald Trump

Far from bowing out of the United Nations deal on climate change, Donald Trump looks set to alter how the Paris Accord spends its “green fund”.

Instead of billions going to wind or solar projects that rely on imported equipment, the White House wants to see coal-rich countries like Zimbabwe, Ghana or Tanzania use their own resources to generate power and stem poverty.

Washington has already donated $1 billion to the Paris kitty, and will use its influence to, “advance American-energy interests globally”, a White House official said.

The G20 group of wealthy nations has accepted a US pledge to “work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently”.

Mr Trump had previously said he would would withdraw from the UN treaty in which nearly 200 nations agreed to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

At the same time, he promised to, “open to a new deal that better protects America.”

Financial support for the Green Climate Fund lies at the heart of the accord. Barack Obama pledged $3 billion, delivering a third of the money before he left the White House.

The current administration has said it won’t pay into the fund, but the US gets to keep a seat on the managing board for a year or more based on Obama’s $1 billion. That seat includes a veto on resolutions.

Now, Mr Trump says he wants India and Africa to build new coal plants that produce fewer emissions and pump out more electricity: the “clean coal” he promised at last year’s election.

The Green Fund is supposed to help developing countries reduce greenhouse gas. Critics including NGOs and aid groups say the Trump administration’s objective runs counter to that mission.

“This is not supposed to be a coal slush fund,” said Karen Orenstein, deputy director of the economic policy program at Friends of the Earth. “This is a fund about sustainable development in the age of climate crisis.”

Others say a trillion dollars in aid to Africa the past 50 years has neither stemmed poverty nor saved hundreds of species like rhinos, gorillas, even some trees, from near extinction. And more than 600 million Africans still live without electricity.

On a continent where half the population are below the UN poverty line and a third lack access to clean water, climate change is not top of mind.

The policy is part of Trump’s goal for American “energy dominance,” with US coal, oil and gas helping to supply the world’s power needs.

Africa has some of the world’s largest coal deposits, and natural gas has been discovered off Mozambique.

Between them, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania and Ghana have more than 50bn tons of coal in the ground.

America’s new tactic of controlling the Green Fund is a challenge for countries like Sweden and France that have spoken against any use of coal, but Trump has already discussed it with new French president, Emmanuel Macron.

He also announced a policy to make it easier for the World Bank to finance coal plants in developing nations.

Washington is the biggest donor to both the bank and the International Monetary Fund.

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