House Committee Seeks to Gut Funding to Support International Action on Global Warming: Bad for Americans
The House Appropriations subcommittee responsible for outlining US international global warming funding has just released their bill detailing the amount of money that will support these efforts. This comes on the heels of a House authorization bill passed out of committee with an amendment from Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL) that would seek to completely gut U.S. international funding to help address global warming. Both of these bills are a dangerous attack to key programs that help US companies tap into the growing global demand for clean energy technologies, reduce the carbon pollution from the loss of tropical forests, help developing countries adapt to the impacts of global warming, and reduce the national security implications that will result from global warming.
These bills are bad for the American public – it would come at the cost of lost economic opportunities for America’s job creators and much larger costs from trying to “clean up the mess” caused by global warming. The House, Senate, and the President should reject this attack.
The authorization bill – H.R. 2583, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2012 – passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee by a vote of 23-20 (a straight party-line vote). Rep. Mack’s amendment would prohibit any funding being used to “support activities of the Global Climate Change Initiative”. The Rep. Mack amendment passed on a party-line vote with all the Republicans on the committee voting yes.
The House Appropriations bill is scheduled to be voted on in the subcommittee today (Wed. July 27). In the last fiscal year (FY2011) Congress approved funding of $750-950 million for global efforts to reduce carbon pollution and help developing countries become less vulnerable to global warming impacts. This funding is a very, very, very small share of the overall US budget—around 0.04% of the overall US budget. The appropriations bill that the House Republicans introduced would seriously gut these programs in the following ways:
- Provides zero dollars for the “Climate Investment Funds” (CIFs) which support activities to invest in clean energy technologies in the developing world (through the Clean Technology Fund and the Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program), reduce deforestation (through the Forest Investment Program), and help the most vulnerable countries build resilience to global warming impacts (Pilot Program for Climate Resilience). The CIFs were created under a Republican Administration – President G.W. Bush – who pledged $2 billion towards these funds. Last year Congress approved $375 million towards these funds and President Obama proposed $590 towards these funds this year.
- Prohibits funding to understand the science of global warming. The bill states: “That none of the funds in this Act may be made available for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” (IPCC). So essentially House Republicans pretend global warming doesn't exist and don't want any scientists to tell them otherwise. This provision is effectively an attack on science and our efforts to understand global warming. Given the expected impacts that confront us, we need more answers, not fewer. We need the best scientists in the US and around the world to help us determine the extent that global warming will impact humanity. We don’t need politicians telling us.
- Prohibits funding to international climate action through a treaty ratified by the US Senate in 1992 and signed by a Republican President. The bill also states that none of the funding may be made available for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This treaty was ratified by the US Senate – with two-thirds agreeing to its ratification – and signed by President George Bush. This funding helps the U.S. spur international action to address global warming. Pulling back U.S. engagement at this stage would isolate us from the world and concede leadership to other countries. It would save very little money towards deficit reduction as the total amount that the U.S. provides for the IPCC and UNFCCC was about $10 million last year.
- Cut U.S. bilateral funding which supports the State Department and the US Agency for International Development investments in international actions to address global warming. These two bilateral assistance accounts – the Economic Support Fund and Development Assistance account – were cut by $2.2 billion below last year’s amount and $2.7 billion below the President’s request for this year. While we don’t know the exact impact on international climate funding from these cuts, they are likely to have a significant impact on US bilateral efforts to address global warming.
- Decimates the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The GEF is a program supported by countries around the world to help deal with the global environmental challenges that impact all human beings. The GEF was created in 1991 under a Republican President and supported by Republicans and Democrats since its inception. The proposed bill would cut the GEF funding by almost $20 million from last year’s amount and by over $73 million from the amount the President requested to meet the growing need for key investments. While the exact impact on climate change funding of these cuts isn’t known, these cuts will dramatically cut back on the GEF’s global warming programs.
Cutting this critical funding will have important implications for Americans as these cuts will come at a significant expense both now and into the future. Here is just a couple of ways these will hurt Americans.
Reducing opportunities for American companies and workers to tap into the growing global demand for clean energy. There is a $10 trillion market for clean energy technologies over the next two decades as the world moves to address global warming. The clean energy economy has been surging throughout the world – having grown over 539% since 2004. American companies are already tapping into this market and poised for generating even more opportunities as the market continues to surge. But if the US pulls back from programs that help create demand for these clean energy jobs, US companies and workers will lose out. According to one study, the US could create 280,000 to 850,000 new jobs if it captures just 14 percent of the clean technology market in the developing world.
Bad for the environment: reducing carbon pollution from deforestation. Every year an area the size of New York State is lost to tropical deforestation. The resulting carbon pollution from this forest loss is significant – about as much as the total pollution from the world’s transportation sector. The Republican bill would significantly cut US efforts to reduce carbon pollution from forest loss. Cutting these programs would hurt American farmers and ranchers as they support programs to ensure that there is a level playing field for US agriculture and forest products sourced from sustainable activities—estimated to increase American farmers and ranchers revenue by $7-9 billion per year.
Very troubling for global political stability. As the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff stated: “…climate change’s potential impacts are sobering and far-reaching…Scarcity of water, food and space could create not only a humanitarian crisis, but create conditions that could lead to failed states, instability and, potentially, radicalization.” US funding for the most vulnerable countries helps to reduce the risk of these destabilizing events by making countries less vulnerable to the impacts of global warming.
The House, Senate, and the President should reject these cuts to key programs. And they should reject the policy riders attached to the bill. As Rep. Dicks the Ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee stated: “In addition to the irresponsibly low subcommittee allocation, the bill is also loaded down with short-sighted and ideologically driven riders that would…continue to deny the impacts of global climate change.”
These are short-sighted cuts which will hurt the American people.