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WASHINGTON, DC ? International agency Oxfam America praised Senate leaders who fought to push forward the historic debate on climate change in the US Congress this week and urged a new administration and Congressional leaders to take up the fight early in the next session of Congress.
?The Climate Security Act has provided a landmark opportunity to move Congressional debate forward on climate change,? said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. ?We commend the efforts of the many Senators who want to address the devastating consequences of climate change for the lives and livelihoods of billions of people who live in poverty.?
While praising the leadership of Senator Boxer (D-CA) and Senator Reid (D-NV) and the climate bill?s authors Senator Warner (R-VA) and Senator Lieberman (I-CT), Offenheiser warned that much is at stake in the battle to address climate change. ?Climate change will be the greatest humanitarian crisis of this century should we fail to act swiftly, decisively and responsibly,? he stated.
Along with efforts to curb greenhouse gases, the bill included an important provision to establish an international climate change adaptation program. The adaptation program would have directed a portion of the revenues from the auction of greenhouse gas emission permits to provide assistance to vulnerable communities in developing countries to adapt to the devastating impacts of climate change.
?A majority of Senators recognized the urgent need to advance debate on serious global warming legislation.? said Offenheiser. ?As evidenced by growing food insecurity and recent extreme weather events, climate change is hurting people now. We have no time to waste.?
One of the amendments not discussed on the floor because of the shortened debate was introduced by Senator Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator Snowe (R-ME) to significantly bolster the bill?s funding of critically needed international adaptation efforts for vulnerable developing countries, reallocating some of the bill?s allowances that would have been given as a windfall to major oil company refineries. Over 25 environmental, development and faith organizations, including Oxfam America, joined forces in support of the amendment.
?Congress and the new administration must move quickly to build on the Climate Security Act next year. A bill is needed that ensures significant reductions in US greenhouse gas emissions and provides substantial support to domestic poor and vulnerable communities in developing countries around the world that are already coping with the extreme impacts of floods, drought, storms and disease,? said Offenheiser. ?With every delay come increased risks of social instability and threats to national and global security from migration and refugee crises, conflicts over natural resources, and economic destabilization.?
?The failure to act will lead to even greater costs later,? said Offenheiser. ?Unfortunately, these costs will be measured not only in dollars and cents but in lives lost to hunger, disasters, and increased conflict.?