Sen. Inhofe: Americans Won’t Agree to Pay $3B to UN’s Climate Change Fund

By Mairead McArdle | November 19, 2015 | 10:55 AM EST

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. (AP photo)

( -- Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) said Wednesday that Americans  would not agree to pay the $3 billion President Obama has promised to contribute to the United Nations' Green Climate Fund.

The Green Climate Fund is the collective pool of money pledged by U.N. members to help underdeveloped countries launch projects to reduce their carbon emissions.

“When it comes to the financing, I know that a lot of people over there, the 192 countries, are going to assume that Americans are going to line up and joyfully pay $3 billion into this fund,” Inhofe said during a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which he chairs. “But that's not going to happen either.”

The committee met Wednesday to discuss COP 21, the upcoming international climate change talks sponsored by the U.N. that will begin Dec. 7 in Paris.

“[President Obama] did send information in that he's going to be reaching between a 26 and 28 percent reduction in emissions, but failed to say how he's going to do this,” Inhofe pointed out.

Inhofe said he believes Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials declined to attend the committee hearing because the agency is unable to detail how President Obama plans to meet his goal of reducing carbon emissions up to 28 percent by 2025.

“We... asked the EPA to attend, and they refused to attend,” Inhofe continued. “Now, this is the first time in my experience in the years that I've been here, eight years in the House and 20 years in the Senate, that the committee of jurisdiction making a request that someone appear and they don't appear.

“So I think there's a reason. Because they don't know how the calculation of 26 to 28 percent was working,” Inhofe said.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). (AP photo)

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) agreed with Inhofe that the president’s promised decrease in CO2 emissions cannot be met.

“President Obama cannot meet his goal of 26 to 28 percent reduction in CO2 emissions without the full implementation of this regulation [Clean Power Plan] , and we believe that it stands on shaky legal and political ground,” Capito said, noting widespread oppositon to the stringent emissions rules at both the federal and state level.

“The Senate has now fully rejected these rules, and we expect the House to do the same, and then the President will have a chance to make his opinion known,” said Capito. “But over half our states, 27 to be precise, have now sued the EPA to block these rules.”

If the climate change agreement reached in Paris is legally binding on the United States, it must be submitted to the Senate as required by the Constitution, she stated.

But Inhofe said he expects the outcome of COP 21 will be similar to the outcomes of the 20 previous international climate change meetings. “Several of us on this panel up here have had different ideas about what is to be accomplished there. My idea is nothing,” he said.

The senator said he agreed with Secretary of State John Kerry’s statements to the Financial Times that no agreement reached between the countries attending COP 21 in the upcoming weeks will be legally binding.

Kerry’s remarks drew ire from French president Francois Hollande, who said: "If the agreement is not legally binding, there won’t be an agreement, because that would mean it would be impossible to verify or control the undertakings that are made."

Others, such as the prime minister of Australia, are also calling for a legally binding agreement.

“If major participants in the upcoming COP 21 negotiations cannot agree on the legal status of any forthcoming agreement, no wonder those of us here today have questions," Capito concluded.

Related: US Senate Votes to Block EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Related: Senate Environment Committee Chairman: God, Not Man, Drives Earth’s Climate Patterns

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Mairead McArdle
Mairead McArdle
Mairead McArdle