Hillary Clinton opened up the United States' checkbook last December in ice cold Copenhagen and pledged to help poor countries deal with global warming.
But now, the well is running dry.
The secretary of state's offer to spend tens of billions of dollars over the next several decades is being met with strong resistance back in Washington.Republicans wielding power next year will have no appetite to spend discretionary money on climate-related issues, especially when they doubt the underlying science. And the demise of comprehensive climate legislation leaves the administration without the long-term funding stream it had envisioned using to cover much of its pledge.
Obama administration officials insist they are full-steam ahead with their pledge to help create a $30 billion short-term fund to help developing countries keep their forests standing, gain access to low-carbon energy technologies and adapt to rising seas, extreme weather and new crop patterns.
"They can make all the promises they want; they may have to find somewhere else to pay for it other than the Appropriations Committee," said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the spending subpanel that oversees the State Department's budget.
"They promised to pass a cap-and-trade bill and reminded us they wanted to give away $100 billion, and I said, 'From where?'" incoming House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) told POLITICO.
Republican Sens. Jim Inhofe (Okla.), David Vitter (La.), John Barrasso (Wyo.) and George Voinovich (Ohio) urged Clinton last week to freeze all future spending requests related to international climate change finance programs and make no new commitments.