The House Republican budget proposal would gut key programs to help the US tap into the growing global demand for clean energy technologies, reduce the carbon pollution from the loss of tropical forests, and help developing countries adapt to the impacts of global warming. Cutting these programs is bad for American competitiveness and for the environment.
In the last fiscal year (FY2010), Congress approved funding of $1.3 billion 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. Cutting this funding will have important implications for 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. That demand provides a huge opportunity for American companies and workers. 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.
These aren’t just hypothetical opportunities. The global demand for clean energy continued to skyrocket last year—reaching $243 billion and increasing by 30% from the previous year. American companies are already tapping into the opportunities provided by US international funding as Clipper Wind (with a manufacturing facility in Iowa) found when it was chosen to supply wind turbines for a Mexican project supported with US investments. One look at the list of projects waiting for funding in one US supported program – the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) – shows the huge opportunities that could materialize for US companies and workers if the US supported these projects becoming a reality. These opportunities will be lost if the proposed budget cuts are enacted (the CTF was zeroed out in the House Republican budget proposal).
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. Reducing this forest loss can be some of the least costly ways to address carbon pollution. US funding for deforestation reduction helps countries establish rule of law, address illegal logging, and make tropical forests worth more standing than cut down. For example, the US is helping some of the poorest communities in the world in places like the Congo Basin in Africa and Guatemala in Central America.
The Republican Budget proposal would significantly cut US efforts to reduce carbon pollution from forest loss. The funding that is proposed to be cut isn’t a handout. They are investments that benefit American citizens by reducing the carbon pollution that is causing global warming. And they benefit American farmers and ranchers by ensuring 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. We live in an interconnected world. Changes in one region can often have spillover impacts to other countries and regions. Just look at what is happening in the Middle East to help visualize that dynamic. Global warming has the potential to dramatically reshape future security environments as an exercise conducted at the National Defense University found. That was a point recently highlighted by 16 high-level retired Generals and Admirals when they stated:
“Providing financing for international climate preparedness and adaptation programs is a vital component of reducing global security threats.”
US funding for adaptation helps to reduce this risk by making countries less vulnerable to the impacts of global warming. After all, it is cheaper to avoid the mess in the first place rather than trying to clean up after the damage has occurred.
We recognize the tight budget times. But small international investments can reap large benefits for the US. These investments spur opportunities for American companies and workers, protect the environment on which we depend, and avoid future more costly investments in global security.
If you like American job opportunities, environmental protection, and national security then the significant international funding cuts are the wrong cuts.