President Joe Biden is pledging $1 billion in taxpayer money to a United Nations climate fund that funnels millions of dollars to China, the world's largest emitter of carbon and second-largest economy.
Biden during a Thursday morning speech announced the contribution to the United Nations' Green Climate Fund, saying the money will support "developing countries in taking stronger climate action." Because the United Nations still classifies China, despite its massive economy, as a developing country, the communist nation receives significant Green Climate Fund money. The fund in November 2019 pledged $100 million to create a "Green Development Fund" in Shandong, China's second most populated province. The Green Climate Fund disbursed $28 million to its Chinese partner in September 2022, and tens of millions of dollars are still poised to go out to the project, which will remain active through April 2042.
Biden has long stressed the need to help developing countries fight climate change, an effort the Democrat promised he would fund to the tune of $11 billion a year. Biden's decision to pursue that effort through international organizations, however, is sure to bring controversy. Many of those organizations, such as the United Nations, still consider China a developing country, making the communist nation eligible for international climate investment. In November, for example, the Biden administration agreed to establish an international "climate justice" fund that would pay climate reparations to developing nations. But China did not agree to pay into the fund, and its status as a developing nation left the administration scrambling to ensure "that China would not be eligible to receive money from it," according to the New York Times.
Beyond its economic status, China is by far the world's number-one carbon emitter. The communist nation's greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 "exceeded those of the U.S. and other developed nations combined." That year saw China pledge to show "the highest possible ambition" in fighting climate change, but two years later, in 2021, China's coal production surged to record highs.
Daniel Turner, the founder and executive director of energy advocacy group Power the Future, admonished the Biden administration for "subsidizing countries like China" as the communist nation simultaneously ramps up fossil fuel production.
"China is building the equivalent of two new coal plants a week, and they don't deny it. Meanwhile, we're closing down our coal plants and giving China money for green products, which we'll then buy," Turner told the Washington Free Beacon. "So we're subsidizing them twice. And you just wonder—how much more in debt do we have to go? And how much more do we have to risk on national security?"
Neither the White House nor the Green Climate Fund returned requests for comment.
The Green Climate Fund says its Chinese investment will go toward climate change "mitigation and adaptation initiatives across several sectors" in Shandong, which "has the highest energy consumption" among China's provinces due to "its high use of coal as an energy source for its large industrial base." The Shandong project is not the U.N. fund's only tie to China—the fund's board also includes an official from China's Ministry of Finance, Yingzhi Liu, who the fund says represents "developing country parties from Asia-Pacific states."
China's developing nation status has attracted bipartisan ire on the Hill. In March, the House unanimously passed the PRC Is Not a Developing Country Act, a bill from California Republican congresswoman Young Kim that's aimed at stripping China of its developing country label in the United Nations and other global organizations. Chinese Communist Party propaganda rag China Daily in a Monday column admonished the move, calling China's developing country status "legitimate."
"China has not only achieved remarkable results but also become the world's second-largest economy and the largest trading country," the column says. "But despite all this, China's per capita income is still much less than developed countries. This means it is still a developing country."'
Still, Kim told the Free Beacon she's undeterred and will work to get her bill "across the finish line."
"The People’s Republic of China contributes more emissions than any country in the world yet receives funds from international treaties and organizations due to its ‘developing country’ status. Handing over taxpayer dollars to subsidize the Chinese Communist Party is a bad investment and will do nothing to protect our national security or promote U.S. development globally," Kim said. "The Biden administration’s announcement of $1 billion to the Green Climate Fund, which sends millions to PRC projects, underscores the need to revoke the PRC’s developing country status and ensure the PRC plays by the rules in international agreements."
Biden's Thursday announcement marks the first time the United States will contribute to the Green Climate Fund since 2017, when former president Donald Trump pledged to "terminate" U.S. contributions to the fund. The Green Climate Fund in a Thursday statement applauded Biden's announcement, saying the $1 billion "will provide urgently needed climate finance for the most vulnerable countries in the world."