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About the Waxman-Markey Climate Change Bill

About the Waxman-Markey climate change bill…..

Rep. Henry Waxman of California and Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts have developed a discussion draft of a comprehensive climate change bill that they are working through their House Energy and Commerce Committee. This committee is taking the lead on crafting what will be the final legislation coming out of the House, although other committees will weigh-in on pieces of the legislation where they have jurisdiction…

Quick timing for advocacy with members of the House:

The Committee is expected to hold hearings, finalize text, and vote on it (the “mark-up” process) by around May 11th. So the next few weeks are crucial to improving the bill. It is much easier to get changes to the text at this stage in the legislative process than when it hits the floor of the House. Click here to see which members sit on the House Energy & Commerce Committee. If you live in one of these districts, please contact your Representative, even if you already have done so within the last 2 months. Also, encourage and organize others in your district to do so too. Numbers count!!!

The formal name of the Waxman-Markey bill is:

The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009

Some points to make:

1. The bill is a good start. It is comprehensive – addressing climate change in many ways through encouraging conservation, a transition to a green, “cleaner energy” economy, and creating a cap-and-trade system for reducing carbon emissions over time. It accomplishes some of its objectives while helping our economy and employment in the U.S. rebound. The draft text also includes adaptation funding to the most vulnerable nations which are grappling with the consequences of climate change.

2. The bill’s language needs to be strengthened in some key areas:
a. A specific and substantial allocation of funding for international adaptation needs must be in the final text.

BACKGROUND: It is vital that substantial, adequate, and predictable resources be provided to support adaptation initiatives in developing countries and that these resources are new and additional to existing levels of official development assistance. Estimates of the resources needed to allow developing countries to build resilience and adapt to climate change impacts are sobering. The Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change has estimated that developing countries will require additional investments of $28-67 billion annually by 2030 to address adaptation needs. The UN Development Program, in its 2007 Human Development Report, assessed that developing countries would require $86 billion a year for climate adaptation by 2015.

Given these estimates, the United States should invest in international adaptation at a level that addresses these needs and seizes the economic opportunity for adaptation solutions globally, while also reflecting the U.S.’ historic responsibility for substantial greenhouse gas emissions that cause the global warming impacts to which these communities now need to respond. Based on the low-end of the range of possible adaptation resource needs of $28 billion, and the relative historical contribution of the U.S. to global greenhouse gases of about 25%, the baseline for resources from comprehensive climate legislation should be at least $7 billion per year.

Using rough estimates of the potential value of emissions allowances, the legislation should therefore ensure that at least 7% of emissions allowances will be dedicated starting in 2012, and made available without further appropriation or fiscal year limitation, to fund the International Climate Change Adaptation Program. A fund should be established at the Department of Treasury for this purpose.

b. The particular needs of low-income communities and women need to be explicitly addressed and prioritized in determining adaptation funding levels and plans.

The discussion draft provisions for the International Climate Change Adaptation Program appropriately highlight the most vulnerable developing countries, including the importance of community-level resilience in those countries. However, even within these countries, there are varying climate adaptation and resilience needs among different communities and populations that should be addressed explicitly in the legislation.

For example, particular geographic regions, especially impoverished communities, and vulnerable populations will face harsher impacts or have fewer resources to cope with climate impacts. Furthermore, women often bear the greatest burden from climate-related events due, most often, to their role as providers of food, water, fire wood, and healthcare (as noted recently in House Concurrent Resolution 98 on women and climate change).

Given these varying contexts, it will be critically important to ensure that available resources are targeted to those communities and populations that are most vulnerable to climate change impacts. Indeed, climate change adaptation funding and capacity will be most effective if it focuses on those most affected and involves these vulnerable populations and communities in the design, implementation, and evaluation of adaptation efforts. It is also vital that these efforts are undertaken in ways that do not compound the vulnerability of poor people, including women and indigenous peoples (including customary rights to land and natural resources).



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