President Obama's Budget Request for International Climate Action Strong But Short of the Need

Under the Obama Administration, the United States has invested internationally in addressing climate change. These investments have helped developing countries speed up the deployment of clean energy reduce the loss of forests around the world, and assist the most vulnerable in adapting to the impacts of climate change. They are smart investments that benefit American citizens in many ways. President Obama’s budget request for this upcoming year continues to support these international climate investments, but unfortunately his request is short of what is needed.  

In the last fiscal year, Congress dedicated $858 million towards international climate action. Unfortunately, the President’s request comes in 2.5 percent below that amount (at $837 million). In an era of growing clean energy deployment opportunities, extreme weather events leaving devastation around the world, and significant progress on deforestation reductions, now is not the time to scale-back our efforts.

Now is the time to strengthen our investments and help secure a livable planet for our children and grandchildren. Secretary Kerry understands the need for climate action as he has repeatedly stressed that:

“If we waste this opportunity, it may be the only thing our generation — generations — are remembered for. We need to find the courage to leave a far different legacy.”

Here are details on the President’s budget request for international climate action.* [Thanks to Michael Wolosin of Climate Advisors for this detailed breakout.]

US Intl climate funding FY14.png

It is critical that we continue to significantly invest in these actions as 60 leading environmental, conservation, development, and faith-based organizations urged Secretary Kerry to invest in international climate action. Financing for international climate action serves vital U.S. interests by promoting global stability and human security, creating economic opportunities for U.S. businesses and workers, helping to alleviate global poverty, protecting past U.S. development investments, complementing global health and food security efforts, protecting critical forest areas and biodiversity, and ensuring significant cost-savings through disaster preparedness measures.

U.S. investments in international global clean energy deployment help spur demand for renewable energy around the world. These investments benefit American workers and companies who are already tapping into the global clean energy market. As John Doerr, partner in the venture capital firm Kleiner

Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Jeff Immelt, chairman and chief executive of General Electric, pointed out:

 “America confronts three interrelated crises: an economic crisis, a climate crisis and an energy security crisis. We believe there’s a fourth: a competitiveness crisis. This crisis is particularly evident in America’s worldwide standing in the next great global industry, green technology…The question is whether the United States will lead or lag in tomorrow’s global energy markets. And the difference between these two futures is dramatic.”

Targeted and well-planned U.S. climate change investments in climate resilience and adaptation are helping communities in developing countries build capacity to adapt to and prepare for impacts from climate change. The consequences of a changing climate are already fast pushing communities, particularly the poorest and most marginalized around the world, beyond their capacity to respond. Data on efforts to reduce disaster risk show that investments in pre-disaster risk management in developing countries result in a savings of $7 for every $1 spent.  As Admiral Mullen, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated:

“…climate change’s potential impacts are sobering and far-reaching. Glaciers are melting at a faster rate, causing water supplies to diminish in Asia. Rising sea levels could lead to a mass migration and displacement similar to what we saw in Pakistan’s floods last year. And other shifts could reduce the arable land needed to feed a growing population in Africa, for example. 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.”

Halting forest loss is a vital part of the fight against climate change. Sustainably managing forests to support local communities has been a key component of international development for decades. As Lynn Scarlett, former Deputy Secretary of the Interior under George W. Bush stated:

“Seeing firsthand the devastating effects of tropical deforestation is humbling. Many local communities, through conservation partnerships, are conserving tropical forests, but only U.S. policy leadership can galvanize global action with the speed, scope, and scale necessary to prevent catastrophic forest losses.”

Now is the time to ensure robust investments in international climate action. The President’s budget request for this upcoming year continues to support these international climate investments, but unfortunately his request is short of what is needed. We strongly urge that Congress continue to significantly investing in international climate action.


* Note that these amounts are the core budget as appropriated by Congress. The U.S. also makes investments in international climate action through programs that don't require annual appropriations from Congress, such as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation which has significantly invested in clean energy deployment support.

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