The Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment, Rep. Eni Faleomavaega, along with seven other Members of the House today sent a letter to Sen. John Kerry, the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and leader on climate change legislation in the Senate, urging him to double assistance for developing countries in legislation Kerry is currently drafting.
As Faleomavaega said, “Developed countries must assist developing nations adjust to the impacts of global warming if we are to achieve a successful global climate change agreement, one that will prevent the most devastating effects of climate change. Ironically, the poorest and most vulnerable countries are the ones that will suffer the most from rising sea levels, severe weather events and other consequences of climate change – despite those nations having contributed only negligibly to the problem. U.S. leadership is vital if we are to prod other developed countries to step up to the plate and provide appropriate levels of assistance. And in the aftermath of House passage of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade legislation earlier this year, the Senate must now act. John Kerry is the point person in developing a Senate bill that both Houses of Congress can agree on, which in turn is a prerequisite for a successful international global warming agreement.”
“As my colleagues in the House – Raúl Grijalva, Emanuel Cleaver, Maxine Waters, Pete Stark, Dennis Moore, Donna Christensen and Michael Honda – noted in our letter, ‘the amount of funding developed countries are currently promising to developed countries is grossly insufficient to meet the need… Given the magnitude of the problem developing countries face, and given the responsibility of developed countries for the majority of historic greenhouse gas emissions, we believe that U.S. climate change legislation should double the emissions allowances currently dedicated in the House bill to international adaptation and mitigation in developing countries.’”
The letter noted Sen. Kerry’s previous efforts on addressing climate change, stating, “We particularly appreciate your introduction of S. 2835, which focuses on the countries most vulnerable to the impacts of global warming. We sincerely hope that with that measure as well as the recent pledges by China and India to curb their emissions relative to economic growth, and President Obama’s support for mobilizing developed countries to contribute $10 billion a year by 2012 and implementing longer-term mechanisms to assist developing countries with adaptation and mitigation, Copenhagen makes substantial progress toward completion of a binding agreement to limit climate change.”
“The bill you are working on with the Senators Graham and Lieberman offers a crucial opportunity to advance that agreement. We urge you to include an adequate commitment of resources for the nations and peoples most vulnerable to the consequences of global warming in that legislation.”
The letter goes on to stress, “The needs of developing countries are manifest. As noted by the recent World Development Report 2010, even if average global temperatures rise only 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, “Between 100 million and 400 million more people could be at risk of hunger. And 1 billion to 2 billion more people may no longer have enough water to meet their needs… It is estimated that developing coun¬tries will bear most of the costs of the damages – some 75–80 percent.” As the Stern Review made clear, even if greenhouse emissions ceased today, the world would still face at least two decades of increasing global temperatures.”
“In the very near future, higher temperatures will lead to economic and political instability, refugee crises and conflicts over ever-scarcer natural resources in developing nations, all of which will have direct, negative implications for developing and developed countries alike. That is why the United Nations negotiating blocs of Least Developed Countries and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) – which together represent 80 countries least responsible for climate change but most severely affected by it – have recently called for a minimum 45 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by 2020. They are further requesting that there be no more than a 1.5º C global temperature rise from pre-industrial levels, and that atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations return to below 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide equivalent.”
“As AOSIS has pointed out, ‘Serious adverse impacts are already being felt by island states at the current 0.8°C of warming, including coastal erosion, flooding, coral bleaching and more frequent and intense extreme weather events. The U.N.'s lead agency on refugees has already warned that some particularly low-lying island states are 'very likely to become entirely uninhabitable'.”
“Estimates vary on the level of funding needed by the developing world to lessen the destabilizing impacts of climate change that will likely occur regardless of the adoption of an international agreement. However, the UN's latest Human Development Report estimates that additional adaptation finance needs alone will amount to $86 billion annually by 2015. And last week in Copenhagen, Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said that developed countries should expect to contribute $100 billion annually to developing nations.”
“Yet the amount of funding developed countries are currently promising to developed countries is grossly insufficient to meet the need. The United States must demonstrate leadership if the developed world is to meet its obligation to provide appropriate sums. The Congressional Research Service’s calculation of the funding produced by H.R. 2454 for developing countries – based on the current percentage of emissions allowances dedicated to international adaptation and international clean technology deployment and the allowance prices used in the EPA/IGEM Model – suggests that less than $1 billion per year would be available in 2012, rising to less than $1.6 billion by 2020.”
“Given the magnitude of the problem developing countries face, and given the responsibility of developed countries for the majority of historic greenhouse gas emissions, we believe that U.S. climate change legislation should double the emissions allowances currently dedicated in the House bill to international adaptation and mitigation in developing countries.”
“While such enhanced allocations would amount to substantial sums of money, we believe they will more than pay for themselves over time when compared to American commitments of troops and resources that would likely be required to address adverse impacts in developing countries affecting vital U.S. interests. As retired Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni, former commander of U.S. Central Command, has noted, ‘We will pay now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions… or we will pay the price later.’”
“Again, we applaud your efforts at addressing the enormous challenge of climate change. As legislation moves toward passage in the Senate, we sincerely hope that it provides increased commitments to the countries and peoples most vulnerable to the consequences of global warming,” the letter concludes.