Despite Emerging Climate Change Impacts in Developing Countries, House Appropriators Likely to Slash Climate Assistance Funds

As the impacts of climate change increasingly loom around the world, threatening regions of strategic importance to the U.S., House Republicans are likely to walk away from the problem.  They appear poised to cut funding that helps developing counties cope with the impacts; and that avoids much more disruptive impacts by slowing the growth in emissions from those countries. These investments are in the U.S. strategic and economic interest, creating markets for clean energy products and reducing the risk of climate disruption in key areas of the world.

Jake Schmidt, International Climate Policy Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, comments below.  This originally appeared on his blog on 7 Feb 2011 as House Appropriator Proposes Major Cuts to US Foreign Assistance: Will international climate funding be cut?


The Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Hal Rogers (R-KY) just proposed significant cuts to US international funding.  While the proposal he just released doesn’t spell out the exact cuts for different programs and categories of funding, we expect that the Majority Members of the committee will recommend cuts to US international climate funding.  Such cuts would be “penny wise and a pound foolish” as this funding benefits the US in many ways.

For the “State, Foreign Ops” subcommittee Rep. Rogers proposed funding for Fiscal Year 2011 of $46.95 billion, which is 17% less than President Obama’s original FY 2011 request for programs that fall under the subcommittee’s purview, according to InterAction.  Funding from the “State, Foreign Ops” budget lines supports programs at the State Department, US Agency for International Development, and other foreign assistance programs (see Committee website for full details on the jurisdiction).  Some portions of US international climate funding fall under this budget, so cuts to this budget will impact US efforts to help developing countries deploy clean energy, reduce deforestation, and adapt to the impacts of climate change. 

Cutting US international climate funding would set us back.  These programs help reduce the impact of carbon pollution and benefit the US in a number of ways.

Creating jobs through global clean energy deployment.  There is a $10 trillion market for clean energy technologies as the world moves to address global warming.  Analysis has found that the US can create jobs at home by supporting international clean energy opportunities which help to tap into the growing demand for clean energy throughout the world.   US programs to support international low-carbon energy deployment can help tap into this growing demand and create jobs in the US jobs.  As two former Members of Congress and the former director of OPIC just put it:

“Done right, our foreign assistance is also a key driver of helping these developing markets mature and become better places for U.S. exports and investment. Developing countries have the fastest growing economies in the world, and they are the next frontier for American businesses and products. We exported $510 billion worth of goods and services to developing countries in 2009, and the number is growing exponentially. For every 10% increase in exports, we received a 7% boost in employment at home, and 97% of businesses that benefit from exports are small-and-medium-sized enterprises.”

For example, Mexico developed a project to increase the deployment of wind power through a program supported by the US – the Clean Technology Fund—and through the US Ex-Im.  As a result, US-based Clipper Windpower is helping deploy wind turbines through this Mexican program.

Benefiting farmers and ranchers through efforts to stop tropical deforestation.  Agricultural expansion is a major driver of deforestation in many developing countries.  When agriculture products in developing countries are sourced from deforested land and sold in the global market, they compete directly with more sustainably produced U.S. exports and impact the market price of those products throughout the world.  So supporting efforts in those countries to address deforestation and illegal logging benefits US farmers and ranchers.  A recent study found that U.S. farmers and ranchers would see total revenue increases of $7-9 billion per year if the U.S. joins other developed nations in investing in efforts to stop deforestation.  Such investments also benefits citizens in the developing world as the study found when looking at the case in Brazil.  So this is a win-win.  And that doesn’t include the significant biodiversity, national security, and carbon pollution benefits of protecting tropical forests.

US funding for deforestation reduction helps countries establish rule of law, address illegal logging, and make tropical forests worth more standing than cut down.

Reduces national security risks.  Climate change has the potential to dramatically reshape future security environments.   In an exercise conducted at the National Defense University, a destructive flood in Bangladesh sent hundreds of refugees streaming into neighboring India, touching off religious conflict, the spread of contagious disease and vast damage to infrastructure.  In other words, such a scenario (not unlike what is projected to be wrought by climate change) could destabilize countries

US funding for adaptation helps to reduce this risk by making countries less vulnerable to the impacts of global warming.

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The House Appropriations committee will spend this week detailing the cuts for the remainder of the current fiscal year.  Later this week President Obama will present his budget proposal to Congress for the upcoming fiscal year (FY12).

We hope that both listen to retired US military officials and businesses, as well as the farmers and ranchers that know first-hand that US support of international efforts to address carbon pollution benefits the US.

Now is not the time for cuts to US funding for international global warming programs.

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