Barack Obama has transferred half a billion dollars to the UN’s Green Climate Fund, just three days before Donald Trump’s inauguration.
The president-elect has promised to stop all payments to UN global warming programmes.
But announcing the grant, John Kirby, the State Department’s spokesman said there was no “nefarious desire or intent” behind the timing, adding that “the investment had long been planned”.
Trump, a long-time climate change denier who once described global warming as a Chinese conspiracy, initially said he planned to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, although his stance has since softened.
Investment in the climate fund is a key part of America’s responsibilities under the agreement.
The latest move will go some way to protecting the fund, which was created in 2010 as a way of ensuring that developing nations could adapt to and mitigate the effects of global warming.
More than 100 organisations and nearly 100,000 people had called on Obama to transfer the US’s remaining $2.5bn commitment to the fund. Despite the fact the investment fell short, the move was praised by climate activists.
“The Obama administration is refusing to let president-elect Trump’s posse of oil barons and climate deniers dictate how the world responds to the climate crisis,” said Tamar Lawrence-Samuel, of Corporate Accountability International, which led the campaign.