The Biden administration is set to spend tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on a climate change podcast in India, which it hopes will inspire "changemakers" in the country to "use innovation and technology to solve the climate crisis."
President Joe Biden's State Department will award the $50,000 grant this summer through its embassy in New Delhi, documents show. The department hopes the "climate action podcast" will "enhance India's commitment to combating climate change" and persuade Indian "entrepreneurs and innovators of opportunities" to live "lifestyles with more sustainable choices" and "see the United States as a source of partnership and leadership in protecting the planet." The department's funding announcement also includes examples of "successful U.S. Mission podcasts" to emulate, including What's a Man? Masculinity in India, a show that interviews Indian "boys as young as seven years old and men across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum" to discuss perceived issues with the "male-female binary."
This is far from the first time the Biden administration has sent taxpayer dollars abroad to support unorthodox climate change initiatives. Biden's U.S. Agency for International Development last year pledged to use taxpayer funds to both inspire young climate activists and help those activists treat their "climate-related mental health conditions," such as "eco-anxiety." Months later, in March, the agency announced a $1 million grant to help disabled people in the Central Asian country of Tajikistan become "climate leaders." Beyond the bizarre climate spending, a Biden State Department program aims to teach more than two dozen Brazilian "trans activists" how to speak English, the Washington Free Beacon reported earlier this month.
The State Department has lofty goals for its Indian climate action podcast. The department's funding announcement says the podcast in its first six months should "reach at least half a million listeners across various podcast streaming platforms," at least 10 percent of whom "should engage in a dialogue on social media through a dedicated hashtag committing to a sustainable lifestyle."
To meet that goal, the department says, the eventual podcast host should in each episode interview "an alum of a U.S. government-funded program" who has "demonstrated leadership and innovation/entrepreneurship in taking action to combat climate change." Podcast episodes should also include a conversation with "an American expert who can talk about innovation in the climate sector" and "share related information about current research, trends, policy, activism, invention, etc.," including the push to transition away from gas-powered stoves.
"A sample episode about emissions reduction … could host an Indian business that found a green energy source for cookstoves that replaces fossil or carbon-emitting fuels," the department document says. "It can also feature the CEO of the American startup changing the toothbrush industry by producing plastic-free toothbrushes."
The State Department defended its Indian climate podcast grant, telling the Free Beacon that it "supports a wide range of strategic programs around the world" and that "as one of the world's largest economies and a global leader in science and innovation, India is a critical part of the solution to the climate crisis."
This is not the first U.S.-led activist podcast in India. The State Department's funding announcement also lists two "successful U.S. Mission podcasts," What's a Man and Women in Labour. The former, which has featured Indian "nonbinary" drag queen Sushant Divgikar, aims to explore "men's inner lives, thoughts, joys, pain, fear, dilemmas, and doubts" and "explore the myths, truths, and lies about manhood and masculinity." The latter is a "freewheeling, no-holds-barred comedy podcast" that "explores taboo topics related to women" and asks hard-hitting questions such as "what's stopping us from finding our inner boss?" and "why do we preface our work emails with 'I was just wondering …'?"
The grant reflects Biden's government-wide mandate to fight climate change, which the Democrat outlined in a January 2021 executive order that called on all government agencies to "combat the climate crisis with bold, progressive action." That order prompted federal agencies that have seemingly nothing to do with climate change to release "Climate Action Plans." The Department of Veterans Affairs, for example, in August 2021 unveiled its climate plan, which pledged to respond to the "projected impacts of climate change" by making its buildings more "climate-resilient."
In many cases, the administration's overseas climate spending has prompted criticism from congressional Republicans, who argue that the spending is a waste of taxpayer dollars.
"American tax dollars should be spent supporting Americans, not overseas climate activists," Florida Republican senator Rick Scott said in March. "American taxpayer dollars should not be used to build an army of Green New Deal activists around the world," Virginia Republican congressman Ben Cline added.