Tomorrow, the Senate Appropriations Committee is set to mark-up the 2012 fiscal year appropriations bill which outlines the amount of funding that will be invested in international action on global warming. A new letter from 15 major environmental, faith-based, development, and conservation groups urges the Senate to defend long-standing U.S. support for foreign assistance by fully funding the International Affairs Account, including investments in international climate change finance.
In addition to NRDC the signers of the letter include: ActionAid U.S., CARE USA, Church World Service, Lutheran World Relief, National Wildlife Federation, Oxfam America, The Nature Conservancy, Union of Concerned Scientists, U.S. Climate Action Network, Wildlife Conservation Society, and World Wildlife Fund.
In 2011, the U.S. Congress passed appropriations bills which dedicated $750-950 million for international action to help deploy clean energy, reduce deforestation, and support the poor in addressing the impacts of global warming. The House appropriations committee recently passed a bill that seeks to gut these key actions, so what will the Senate do?
This letter urges the Senate to reject efforts to gut these key programs. As the letter states:
“International investments to deal with the increasing challenges of climate change and extreme weather variability are essential to promote national security and minimize instability, enhance economic opportunities for U.S. businesses and workers, provide major cost savings by reducing disaster relief, protect critical forest areas and biodiversity, and preserve decades of U.S. investments in global development.”
While we recognize that these are tough budget times, investments in these key actions benefit Americans in a variety of ways. As the letter points out:
“Extreme weather variability spurred by a warming planet will exacerbate food insecurity, water scarcity, poor health conditions, and natural disasters, often in some of the most volatile regions of the world. We are witnessing today how frequent droughts are impacting the lives of some 12 million people who are fighting for survival in the Horn of Africa. Building resilience and increasing disaster-preparedness among poor communities will help avert instability caused by migration and conflicts and save lives as well as U.S. dollars down the road in emergency relief and military engagement. Data on disaster risk reduction show that up-front investments could result in a cost savings of $7 to every $1 spent.
Similarly, maintaining critical forest ecosystems is essential to mitigating losses in natural resources and biodiversity that lead to food and water insecurity, instability, and increases in greenhouse gas emissions. Protecting international forests helps support sustainable economic development, foster economic linkages with strategically important economies, and support developing countries in their efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
In addition, investments in a thriving clean energy sector will position the U.S. for enormous clean energy export opportunities in emerging economies. Investments in clean energy infrastructure in developing countries are expected to total over $20 trillion in the next 25 years. The global market for clean energy is surging
– having grown over 539 percent since 2004. If U.S. businesses capture a 14 percent market share, which reflects current U.S. environmental exports to developing countries, it could create up to 850,000 new American jobs.”
The Senate has a choice tomorrow. It should reject efforts to gut these programs. After all, these investments benefit Americans now and in the future.