Environmental groups call for U.S. to assist foreign nations in combating climate change

Amanda Carey Contributor
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Two leading environmental groups are calling for increased government funding of international climate change initiatives.

In a poorly-timed report released today, the Center for American Progress and the Alliance for Climate Protection lay out why the United States should focus on becoming a leader in global climate change finance — making it financially possible for developing nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and become more energy efficient.

That proposal – assisting countries like Brazil, India, and Indonesia – comes with a price tag of $500 million in financial assistance over three years.

The report, entitled “U.S. Role in International Climate Finance: A Blueprint for Near-Term Leadership,” calls for at $60 billion in additional worldwide funding per year in climate change financing through 2020. This is on top of the $100 billion already agreed upon last year in Copenhagen

“We need to convince the public that climate change is an actionable problem; that the solutions are available; that a coordinated approach is feasible; that financing the necessary changes is affordable; and that paying for changes is, in fact, a wise investment in future prosperity,” wrote former Vice President Al Gore, who founded the Alliance, in his introduction to the report.

John Podesta, president of CAP, followed up Gore’s call to action with one of his own in a conference call with reporters on Monday. “Our analysis says pledges by developed and undeveloped countries, while significant, still falls short…American has an opportunity to lead by partnering with developing nations,” he said.

Those calls to action, however, come at a time when climate change science is being increasingly challenged.

Just last week, in fact, the latest dump of WikiLeaks data revealed that the United States manipulated the unofficial climate accord that was reached in Copenhagen last year – the same accord this recent report is based on. The Copenhagen accord was, for all intents and purposes, an unofficial agreement between world leaders to limit the global warming temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius by 2020.

Among other things, according to The Guardian, the U.S. launched a “secret global diplomatic offensive to overwhelm opposition” to the climate agreement and “seek dirt on nations opposed to its approach to tackling global warming.”

A new study also shows that the alarming forecast made by the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change now looks “unlikely.” The forecast included predictions that global warming would cause a rise in sea level by 6 feet during the next 100 years.

Moreover, it was recently revealed that the Alliance for Climate Protection has drastically reduced its operations in response to the mid-term election results and the increased unlikelihood of a comprehensive climate change bill over the next two years.

Operating at one time in 25 different states, the Alliance has since reduced its field operations to only seven.

In light of this evidence, it seems unusual these two environmental groups are calling for increased funding — much of it from taxpayer dollars and to a lesser extent, development banks and private financing — to reach the goal laid out in the Copenhagen accord.

According to the proposal in the report, the public funding would come from cap and trade and carbon pricing revenues, increased foreign-assistance budgets, new fees, and a redirection of subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.

When asked during the conference call whether such investments were more important than focusing on balancing the budget and reducing the national debt, Podesta said, “We’re in a very tight fiscal environment. Every dollar is going to have to be justified once, twice, and three times over[…]but we focus on these kinds of activities because we think they pay dividends once, twice, and three times over.”