Hillary Clinton Announcing Climate Change Initiative -- After Big Donor Deserts Obama Over Climate Change

Susan Jones | February 16, 2012 | 11:13am EST
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers a speech at the Conference on Internet Freedom, hosted by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague, Netherlands, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool)

(CNSNews.com) - President Obama has lost the financial support of San Francisco philanthropist Susie Tompkins Buell, one of the Democratic Party's most generous benefactors, who says the president has "not been vocal enough" on climate change, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, the U.S. State Department announced a $15-million climate change initiative ($12 million from the U.S.)  to reduce “short-lived climate pollutants.”

"I would just love to write my big check ... or have a high-dollar dinner here" on his behalf, the Chronicle quoted Buell as saying. But, she added, "I can't."  She told the newspaper that Obama has "got to be a leader" on the "urgency" of climate change.

Buell, a co-founder of the Esprit clothing company, is described as being a good friend of Hillary Clinton, who -- on Thursday -- was scheduled to deliver a major address on climate change in Washington.

"Today Secretary Clinton announces a climate and clean air initiative to reduce short-lived climate pollutants," the State Department said Thursday morning on its Web site.

The United States -- in partnership with Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico and Sweden -- plans to raise millions of dollars for an effort to reduce pollutants other than carbon dioxide.

Clinton, at the State Department on Wednesday, called it an "exciting moment." "We have to move, and move quickly now, to follow up on what we have committed ourselves to," she said.

Clinton was scheduled to offer details on the climate change initiative in a Thursday-morning speech at George Washington University, but the event was postponed at the last minute without explanation.

The State Department, however, did offer details in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, a transcript of which appears on the State Department Web site:

"Tomorrow, Secretary Clinton is going to be announcing a new coalition that’s dedicated to taking concrete action to reduce pollutants that are sometimes referred to as short-lived climate pollutants," the transcript said.

The focus is on reducing methane, black carbon, and hydrofluorocarbons, which -- the State Department said -- account for more than a third of current global warming.

The State Department said it will look to the United Nations for guidance. A senior administration official, speaking on background, noted that the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) lists "16 major actions that could be taken either on black carbon or methane, which could have quite striking effects with respect to global warming.

"If we could implement those actions, you could slow global warming by something like a half degree Celsius by 2050," which would be "a big deal," the official said.

The State Department said the new Global Climate Change and Clean Air Initiative "is going to be aimed at action, at attracting high-level political support, mobilizing resources, catalyzing and helping to drive the implementation of...national action plans, and broadly raising public awareness about the impact of action in these areas."

The Obama administration said it expects the initial group of six countries to rapidly expand.

"We are starting with about $15 million of funding to get this effort up and running. Twelve of that will come from the U.S. over two years and three from Canada, and there will be, I am sure, also some funding coming from Sweden, although they are not at a phase of their budget process where they have been able to put an exact number down, but they certainly will be contributing, as will new partners and others.”

UNEP will have an important role in the initiative's day-to-day management, and in consultation with the other partner nations, it will develop an annual work plan, budget, and organize meetings and workshops.

"We will be developing priorities and goals and so forth as we go forward. But the name of the game is to get up and running and start defining and taking action that can reduce these pollutants," the administration official said.

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