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BALI, INDONESIA — As developing countries call for action on adaptation in Bali talks, Oxfam welcomed provisions in the climate change legislation passed by the United States Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in Washington today, marking an important step forward in efforts to assist the world’s poorest to deal with the impacts of global warming.
The legislation, which will now go to the full Senate for consideration, marks a first for the US in the endeavor to drive national action on climate change. It would use revenues from the auction of greenhouse gas emission permits to provide assistance to vulnerable developing countries to adapt to climate change impacts. This would generate at least $1 billion a year for adaptation funding at the outset of the program, increasing over time.
Oxfam estimates that unavoidable climate impacts in all developing countries require at least $50 billion per year, of which rich countries, including the US, Japan, Canada and the EU, should be responsible for more than 80 percent. The Senate vote comes at a pivotal moment in international climate talks in Bali this week, where developing countries are calling for greater adaptation assistance.,/p>
“Assisting poor communities around the world who are already facing climate impacts is an essential element of any future global climate agreement,” said Oxfam America’s David Waskow. “Taking this action in US legislation will send a clear message to poor countries at the international negotiations that the US Congress is not just standing idly by. In addition to financing adaptation, the US and other rich countries also need to cut their own emissions first and fastest as well as provide money and technology to help poor countries achieve a low-carbon future.”
Funds generated by the Lieberman-Warner Act would be overseen by the US Agency for International Development and used for such purposes as supporting the development of climate change adaptation plans in least-developed countries, and promoting the adoption of low-carbon and energy efficient technologies in least developed countries.
“The proposed legislation is a change of tune that clearly recognises international obligations to address the effects as well of the causes of its on-going greenhouse gas contributions,” said Waskow. “Now it’s up to the full Senate and the House of Representatives to build on this legislation to ensure robust adaptation assistance to respond to the damage that is caused by climate change in the context of global poverty”.
It is also critical that Congress explores how such efforts can work in tandem with other international action to provide for effective and fair delivery of assistance at the community level in developing countries, according to Oxfam. The US has yet to contribute to any of the existing multilateral funds to support adaptation in poor countries.
Ambitious cuts in harmful greenhouse gases are critically important to developing nations, as they will bear the brunt of climate change through increased floods, droughts, and ruined livelihoods. While the Lieberman-Warner legislation approved by the Senate Committee today is an historic step forward, more needs to be done, according to Oxfam.
“The ball is now rolling to reduce our harmful carbon emissions, but scientists tell us we need to cut emissions by 80 percent by 2050 in order to avoid dangerous impacts on the poor,” continued Waskow. ”As the world’s largest historic emitter, the United States has a responsibility to dramatically reduce its contribution to the problem and also to start helping poor countries address the increasingly severe impacts of climate change.”