The White House budget director, Mick Mulvaney said, “We aren’t spending money on climate change anymore.” He further added, “We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that.” That harsh statement outlining President Trump’s budget plans to cut spending on global warming in the US and around the world will disappoint the 6,000 people who live in the swampy Indonesian village of Cendi Manik. They may not be aware of the details of the president’s new financial priorities but they do know that US money has made a massive difference to their livelihoods and lives.
Climate change is driving up sea levels around this coastal habitation on the island of Lombok – but with funding from the US government through USAID, the World Neighbors NGO has helped residents of the village to plant 11,000 mangrove trees that have limited the worst impacts of tidal flooding. The new trees not only help in controlling the waters but they have also boosted supplies of crabs and shellfish, which are important sources of income when floods hit other crops. Tourism is also beginning to develop in the area. The mangrove operation captured the attention of Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries. They are so impressed that they’ve allocated funding to procure and plant another 120,000 tree seedlings to screen almost 10 hectares of threatened coastline.
US funding for Cendi Manik amounts to only a few thousand dollars and while it has been extended for another year, with USAID covering cuts of around one-third of its budget, the future is highly uncertain. Dr. Kate Schecter, World Neighbors CEO said, “We only have to fund through 2018, but after that, it’s very unclear”. He further added, “It’s not just about reducing poverty or climate change, but it contributes to stability and also enhances the livelihoods of the people in these villages.”
Observers are also worried that lesser known international bodies that deal with aspects of climate change might also be affected. The Climate and Clean Air Coalition was set up to decrease short-lived climate pollutants. It is involved in work of reducing methane emissions from rice fields and trying to agree on international fuel standards for heavy trucks. The US is a significant financial contributor. Programmes like this may be in danger, according to Dr. Andrew Light, a former senior climate change adviser at the US State Department.