New Climate Bill Moves Debate Forward, Impacts on World's Poor Needs Greater Commitment

By Oxfam

WASHINGTON — New legislation introduced by Senators Joe Lieberman and John Warner in the Senate today takes important steps toward addressing global warming, but the legislation also needs to include stronger measures to tackle the severe impacts of global warming on the world’s poor, according to international agency Oxfam America.

“The bill’s authors should be commended for getting the ball rolling on reducing dangerous emissions,” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. “An effective legislative solution, however, must also include robust funding to help the poor deal with the impacts of global warming.”

The world’s poorest people are already among the hardest hit by the impacts of global warming, and climate change will increasingly pose one of the greatest challenges to global poverty reduction efforts in the 21st century, according to Oxfam. Even with significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the impacts experienced by impoverished countries will be severe, and the United States has a responsibility to assist those communities coping with global warming impacts such as droughts, floods and disease.

“Assisting vulnerable communities in dealing with the consequences of climate change is an important part of a strategy to increase global stability, national security, and to restore the United States' international credibility,” said Offenheiser. We look forward to working with the Senate to produce a bill that better addresses global poverty and with it, related national security concerns.”

The bill’s provision on the creation of a new Program on National Security and Climate Change may provide an opportunity to address impacts on vulnerable countries, but the bill should ensure that the world’s poorest will receive funding to adapt to severe climate impacts, according to Oxfam.

“As one of the world’s largest historic emitters, the United States has a responsibility to address the increasingly severe impacts of climate change—both by leading the effort to reduce global warming emissions and by financing assistance to the most vulnerable communities around the world facing climate impact,” said Offenheiser. “We hope that this legislative effort will go further in achieving these goals.”

“This bill provides an important starting point for the Congressional debate on climate change solutions to follow,” Offenheiser added. “We are committed to working with Senators Lieberman and Warner and the other members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to address the impacts of climate change on those who are most vulnerable and least capable of dealing with global warming’s consequences.”

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