November 07, 2014

Chairmen Seek Strong U.S. Action to Forge International Climate Agreement


WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, Chairman of the Committee on Finance, and U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Budget Committee sent the following letter to President Barack Obama, calling on him to propose a strong post-2020 American emissions reduction target, as well as make a substantial pledge to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). 

In the letter, the Chairs stated: “Climate change will have serious negative consequences on our economy, national security, health, and on our budget, and we will need action both here and from other nations around the world in order to address this challenge. A strong target for American emissions reductions after 2020 will build upon our actions to reduce carbon pollution domestically, and convince other countries to help forge a strong international agreement at the 21st Conference of the Parties in 2015.”  

The letter can be found below and here.

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500 

Dear Mr. President: 

We are writing to ask that you continue your robust climate leadership by proposing a strong post-2020 American emissions reduction target, as well as making a substantial pledge to the Green Climate Fund (GCF).  Climate change will have serious negative consequences on our economy, national security, health, and on our budget, and we will need action both here and from other nations around the world in order to address this challenge. A strong target for American emissions reductions after 2020 will build upon our actions to reduce carbon pollution domestically, and convince other countries to help forge a strong international agreement at the 21st Conference of the Parties in 2015.  Furthermore, a substantial pledge to the GCF is necessary to assist developing nations in adapting to climate change and reducing their emissions, and may well be a necessary prerequisite for any future international agreement on climate change.    

The U.S. must propose a strong target for emissions reductions after 2020 in order to internationalize our strong efforts to reduce carbon pollution at home.  The U.S. is already past the halfway mark to achieving the nation’s target of 17% emissions reductions below 2005 levels by 2020.  This gives the U.S. a proven record in emission reductions, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has already laid out new plans for further reducing emissions beyond 2020, but we cannot act alone. The European Union has already agreed to a binding plan for reduction of emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and the U.S. must not pass up on the opportunity to also propose a strong target.  This will set an example for the rest of the world and inspire similarly strong emissions targets across the globe.  

We also urge you to make a strong pledge to the Green Climate Fund. The GCF will finance adaptation and emissions reductions projects in countries that contributed the least to the problem, and can least afford to adapt to changing conditions.  These countries will not be willing to join international emissions reduction efforts unless the U.S. displays a willingness to assist them in adapting to the threat of climate change.  As you know, the GCF is intended to replace several existing funds and serve as a primary, streamlined financing tool.  Many developed and developing nations, including Germany, France, Mexico, Switzerland, Sweden and South Korea have already made strong pledges towards the GCF.  We encourage you to make a substantial commitment that will help convince developing nations to join us in addressing emissions, and will provide the GCF with the legitimacy and financial viability necessary for success. 

In your September speech to the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City, you made a promise that the United States would lead global efforts on climate change, and the world took note of your stirring words.  To deal with this challenge, the international community will need substantial participation from all nations, including both the largest and smallest emitters.  The U.S. can play a central role in encouraging such participation by making strong commitments that the rest of the world can follow.  We ask you to continue your bold leadership on this issue through a strong pledge to the GCF, and a vigorous post-2020 emissions reduction target. 

Sincerely, 

Sen. Robert Menendez
Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee 

Sen. Barbara Boxer
Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee 

Sen. Ron Wyden
Chairman of the Committee on Finance 

Sen. Patty Murray
Chairman of the Budget Committee 

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