April 16, 2024, 10:07 pm

Int'l Correspondent

2023-12-06 15:32:35 BdST

US pledges climate aid for cities, more private sector finance

The US aid chief on Wednesday promised support for two dozen developing cities to cope with climate change and announced more than $2 billion in new adaptation finance from the private sector.

Samantha Power, administrator of the US Agency for International Development, is visiting the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, where nations are wrangling over whether to promise a phasedown of fossil fuels blamed for worsening climate change.

Power, the latest senior US official to join lead negotiator John Kerry during the marathon talks, is focusing efforts on helping developing countries adapt to the changing climate.

"COP28 comes at the end of yet another year where people around the world saw their lives turned upside down by record-high temperatures and extreme weather -- from the catastrophic drought and now devastating flooding in the Horn of Africa to the hottest summer in Earth's recorded history," Power said.

"We must do more to address the climate crisis -- and we are," she said in a statement to AFP ahead of her arrival.

With urban areas responsible for three-quarters of global carbon emissions and many fast growing, USAID promised $53 million to help 23 cities in the developing world switch to low-carbon and climate-resilient activities, including electric vehicles and public transport.

Cities targeted include Kyrgyzstan's capital Bishkek, the western Indian city of Rajkot, the northeastern South African city of Mbombela, and Hermosillo and Merida in Mexico.

USAID also announced the mobilisation of another $2.3 billion in private-sector investment as part of an initiative by President Joe Biden to initiatives such as early-warning systems, climate-resilient food infrastructure and new financial products.

Twenty-one companies have newly committed funding through the initiative, dubbed the President's Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience, including IBM and Visa, USAID said, after 10 founding members joined last year at COP27 in Egypt.

The United States, annoying some green activists, for years has sought to highlight the role of the private sector, with Biden's Republican rivals strongly opposed to offering countries climate assistance.

Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday promised that the United States will contribute $3 billion to a global climate fund, but the money needs approval by a divided Congress.

A USAID official defended the partnership with companies, saying the private sector has shown a strong interest in climate.

"People often say that government should invest where there's a market failure, and this is not an area where there's market failure," the official said.

"In the long term, there's only so much government funding that you can put towards a solution. We need the entire economy."

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