Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will write a $4.5 million (approximately R55.5m) check to fund the United States' annual commitment to the Paris climate deal after President Donald Trump withdrew from the pact.
Bloomberg, a billionaire philanthropist and the United Nations' special envoy for climate action, said Sunday he will fill the U.S. funding gap after Congress said it would only pay $3 million (approximately R37m) this year to the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat. In past years, the U.S. had pledged around $7.5 million (approximately R92m) annually.
"America made a commitment, and as an American, if the government's not going to do it, we all have responsibility," Bloomberg said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "I'm able to do it, so, yes, I'm going to send them a check for the monies that America had promised to the organization as though they got it from the federal government."
Bloomberg said he would consider bankrolling the American commitment next year if the U.S. again fails to pay. But he expressed hope that Trump would change his mind and rejoin the Paris accord.
"He should change his mind and say, look there really is a problem here," Bloomberg said. "America is part of the problem. America is a big part of the solution and we should go in and help the world stop a potential disaster."
Bloomberg's pledge was hailed by Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Agreement last year, fulfilling a campaign promise and dealing a heavy blow to American involvement in the climate fight. In recent months, Trump's top environmental deputies, Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt and Interior Department chief Ryan Zinke, have worked to undo environmental protections.
The U.S. also had pledged to pay $3 billion (approximately R37bn) into the Green Climate Fund, which helps poorer countries adapt to climate change. Trump cut that payment after complaining it was too expensive.
Bloomberg has been instrumental in efforts to make up the U.S. government's failure to keep commitments under the Paris deal. He helped launch the group America's Pledge with California Gov. Jerry Brown, a coalition of states and businesses working to meet U.S. agreements under the deal.
"The U.S. pledged to work with the rest of the world to fight climate change under the Paris Agreement, and that includes providing our fair share of the funding to help countries reach their goals," Bloomberg said in a statement Sunday. "Our foundation will uphold our promise to cover any cuts to UN climate funding by the Federal government ― and the American people will uphold our end of the Paris Agreement, with or without Washington."