US VP Harris Announces $3 Billion Pledge to Green Climate Fund – On Saturday, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris declared at the U.N. COP28 Climate Conference in Dubai that the United States will commit $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, the largest global fund aimed at assisting developing nations in addressing climate change.
“Around the world, there are those who seek to slow or stop our progress. Leaders who deny climate science, delay climate action and spread misinformation,” the vice president said. However, the approval of the multibillion-dollar commitment to the climate fund is contingent on the divided U.S. Congress.
On the same day, the U.S. pledged to eliminate all coal-fired power plants as part of its commitment to the Powering Past Coal Alliance, acknowledging coal as the primary contributor to the climate crisis, as stated by the alliance. Sharp divisions emerged on Friday at COP28 regarding the future utilization of fossil fuels.
Following COP28 president Sultan al-Jaber’s plea to gradually reduce, not eliminate, fossil fuel usage, which he made a day after opening the meeting, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres advocated for the opposite approach. Addressing the delegates, Guterres said, “We cannot save a burning planet with a fire hose of fossil fuel,” and he called for the acceleration of “a just and equitable transition to renewable energy.”
The U.N. chief was referring to the 2015 Paris Climate agreement, which calls for efforts to limit the rise of global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, saying the only way that goal can be reached is if the world stops burning “all fossil fuels. Not reduce. Not abate.” Disputes regarding the use of fossil fuels led a prominent member of the COP28 advisory board to submit her resignation on Friday.
According to Reuters, former Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine resigned by sending a letter to COP28’s president, al-Jaber, expressing deep disappointment in reports suggesting the UAE intended to use the conference for potential fossil fuel and commercial agreements. She highlighted that these reports were troubling and could jeopardize the credibility of the multilateral negotiation process.
The letter, as reported by Reuters, further stated that such actions undermine the COP presidency and the entire process. Earlier in the week, the BBC, in collaboration with the Center for Climate Reporting, revealed leaked briefing documents indicating UAE officials’ plans to discuss fossil fuel deals with 15 nations, a claim strongly denied by Al-Jaber.
Also Friday, Britain’s King Charles III addressed the conference, saying that the world was “dreadfully off track” on its climate goals and that he “prays with all his heart” the conference will be another critical turning point toward genuine transformational action. In his remarks Friday, Jordan’s King Abdullah II linked climate change with the crisis in Gaza, saying they cannot talk about climate change “in isolation from the humanitarian tragedies unfolding around us.”
He mentioned that a region on the front lines of climate change has witnessed thousands killed, injured, or displaced, further exacerbating the devastation. In his remarks, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken connected climate change to the global food crisis, pointing to statistics indicating a projected 50% increase in global food demand by 2050, coupled with an expected 30% reduction in crop yields due to the climate crisis during the same period.
On its opening day Thursday, the conference attendees did reach an agreement on a new $420 million fund aimed at assisting poorer, vulnerable nations in dealing with the financial burdens of climate change-induced disasters, including droughts, floods, and rising sea levels. U.S. climate envoy John Kerry called the agreement “a great way to start” the conference. The day one deal could pave the way for further agreements at COP28.