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Chairman Menendez, Colleagues Introduce Comprehensive International Climate Change Legislation

WASHINGTON – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) was joined by nine of his Senate Democratic colleagues in introducing new international climate change legislation in support of President Biden’s ambitious climate action agenda. Entitled the United States Climate Leadership in International Mitigation, Adaptation, and Technology Enhancement Act of 2021 (U.S. CLIMATE Act), the legislation represents the most comprehensive foreign policy focused climate change bill introduced in Congress.

Unveiled on the heels of the Leaders’ Summit on Climate being convened by the White House, the U.S. CLIMATE Act lays out a bold vision to assure the United States appropriately leads the global effort to combat the climate crisis through a new suite of climate foreign policy, climate finance and foreign assistance, and climate diplomacy programs and initiatives. The legislation also directs U.S. bilateral and multilateral engagements and strategies on climate, and improves integration of climate policy into all aspects of U.S. foreign affairs.

Joining Senator Menendez in introducing the U.S. Climate Act were Senators Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

“We are introducing this comprehensive legislation to bolster President Biden’s commitment to restore our nation’s role as a responsible actor in confronting the climate change crisis. The U.S. CLIMATE Act represents an important step forward in ensuring Congress does its part in providing resources, programs and policy to expedite the restoration of our nation’s climate diplomacy and leadership,” said Chairman Menendez. “Instead of turning a blind eye to science and turning back the clock on environmental progress, we are ready to confront the reality of this crisis and embrace the countless opportunities for Americans that will spring from our renewed international engagement. The U.S. CLIMATE Act not only facilitates our nation’s return to the global fight against climate change, but it mobilizes all aspects of U.S. diplomacy to ensure American innovation and ingenuity can lead the charge against it.”

“Earlier this month, Mauna Loa Observatory recorded record-breaking levels of carbon dioxide, sending us yet another signal that we must address climate change now. The U.S. CLIMATE Act provides resources to restore America’s global leadership on addressing climate change and notably includes my Women and Climate Change Act, which addresses the disproportionate impact of climate change on women and girls,” said Senator Hirono. “With bold direction like this legislation, and a committed partner in President Biden and his administration, I am confident that our country will make meaningful progress on confronting climate change and its consequences.”

“2021 is a critical year for climate action globally and in the United States,” said Senator Cardin. “This legislation will help spur significant additional international action by sending a clear signal about the renewed U.S. commitment to addressing the climate crisis that threatens public health, industries, and natural resources in Maryland and beyond.”

“Climate change is an existential threat that is already compromising our environment, public health, transportation infrastructure, economies and even military installations. And it isn’t just us – this is a global phenomenon. It is a global phenomenon that demands a global response,” said Senator Shaheen. “The U.S. CLIMATE Act is bold, forward-looking legislation that will help create a foundation for a new era of American climate diplomacy, allowing the U.S. to reassert its role as a leader in global climate action. Climate change is here and there’s no time to waste – I urge leaders in Congress to move quickly on this legislation.”

“Climate chaos threatens the health and security of Americans and communities around the world, and is too big for us to solve alone,” said Senator Merkley. “The challenge demands a comprehensive international plan that will pave a road to a safer, more sustainable, and more secure future for our country and our partners—one that combines critical energy, environmental, diplomatic, and economic components. This legislation lays out a blueprint for that kind of strategy, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to set it into motion.”

“The existential threat of climate change demands bold policy—and our time is running out if we don’t act now. The climate crisis is about more than just our environment; it’s a matter of national security, and the U.S. CLIMATE Act treats it as such,” said Senator Murphy. “This legislation would reaffirm our commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, phase down the use of dangerous hydrofluorocarbons, and invest in the Green Climate Fund and other international climate change mitigation strategies at USAID, Treasury, and the State Department. For the sake of our children, Congress needs to make major investments in solving this crisis and get it done before it’s too late.”

“The U.S. has historically led the world in combating global challenges; climate change should be no exception,” said Senator Kaine. “The U.S. CLIMATE Act will reestablish ourselves as leaders in the fight against the climate crisis and will help us respond to the challenges climate change is already bringing. I’m proud to cosponsor this bill because I believe in American leadership, innovation, and potential to make our world a cleaner, more habitable place.”

“The United States cannot tackle climate change on our own. This is a global crisis, and we must enlist the support of others around the world by using the tools of diplomacy and development to meaningfully address this challenge,” said Senator Van Hollen.  “Inaction will result not only in environmental devastation at home and abroad, but also rising risks to our national security. This legislation will help ensure a more coordinated response to climate change and promote international partnerships and prosperity.” 

A copy of the U.S. CLIMATE Act of 2021 can be found HERE.  A section-by-section summary can be found HERE. Key elements of the legislation include:

Makes Climate Action Central to U.S. Diplomacy & National Security Planning

  • Makes climate change a cross-cutting imperative of the State Department by calling for enhanced integration and coordination of climate action across State Dept. bureaus and various federal agencies responsible for executing U.S. foreign policy.
  • Provides critical policy and authorities to resume U.S. leadership on international climate cooperation. 
  • Integrates climate science and forecasting into national security planning.
  • Integrates “The Women and Climate Change Act” to address the disproportionate effect climate change has on women and girls globally.


Strengthens U.S. Bilateral and Multilateral Engagement on Climate Change

  • Encourages U.S. cooperation and special programs with Mexico, Canada, China, India, the European Union, the Caribbean countries, Brazil and the Amazon region, Indonesia, and in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Supports action to restore and meet U.S. climate obligations to ICAO, the Montreal Protocol, the GCF, and the Paris Agreement, including with respect to methane and other highly potent greenhouse gases, and encourages leadership in pursuit of climate mitigation actions to address global transportation and deforestation emissions.

Provides Resources, Authorities, and Policy for Restoring U.S. Leadership on Climate Change by Maximizing U.S. Economic Opportunity in the Global Clean Energy Economy

  • Establishes a range of new international climate change mitigation and adaptation assistance, finance tools, and initiatives at USAID, the Treasury Department, the State Department, and the DFC.
  • Refocuses energy specific assistance programs to support clean energy development.