This paper examines the climate rhetoric and climate action of the Obama administration in its first term. It first traces the trajectory of the term “climate change” as used in 1,908 speeches by administration officials from January 2008 to December 2011; after an apex in 2009, the phrase nearly disappeared. Second, the article details the history of US international climate funding since 2009. In the Obama administration's first budget alone (Fiscal Year 2010), dedicated climate change foreign assistance increased from $321 million to $1.008 billion. Using anonymous administration sources, “fast start finance” reports, and the Congressional Research Service, the paper details the numbers and behind-the-scenes details of President Obama's apparent determination to prioritize climate finance despite powerful congressional opposition. Although these seemingly contradictory trends in rhetoric and finance can be seen as cohering in a highly strategic, energy-focused “two-level game” by the administration, the program's longevity is endangered.

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