Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) introduced global warming legislation yesterday that he said will serve as the "foundation" of the U.S. financial package headed into U.N.-sponsored negotiations next week in Copenhagen.
The 81-page bill would authorize programs associated with the U.S. contribution to a new global climate change agreement, including adaptation, deployment of clean energy technologies and reducing deforestation and forest degradation.
The bill represents the Foreign Relations Committee's entry to the broader climate proposal being crafted by Kerry and Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). Five other committees are also expected to contribute ideas to the overall package, including Agriculture, Commerce, Energy and Natural Resources, Environment and Public Works, and Finance.
Kerry's bill steers funding and technical assistance to help developing countries keep their forests standing and participate in global carbon markets. Through the forestry programs, the bill sets a goal for reducing emissions by at least 720 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2020 -- with a cumulative target of 6 billion tons by 2025.
Clean technology deployment efforts get a boost through language setting up a panel of experts from academia, civil society, government agencies and business. The group would monitor investments to make sure they are made in countries taking enforceable actions to reduce emissions, with additional lookout for U.S. intellectual property rights.
It also sets up a new Strategic Interagency Board on International Climate Investment that would be tasked with oversight of multiple government agency contributions to international climate finance. It would require the State Department to report to Congress on low-carbon development efforts in rapidly growing countries.
And the legislation offers aid to the most vulnerable developing nations to help them develop and implement adaptation programs that deal with everything from sea-level rise to heat waves, extreme weather, air pollution, allergies and water- and food-borne infectious disease.
Kerry has said he does not expect to mark up the bill, and spokeswoman Whitney Smith said yesterday that no votes have been scheduled. Four members of the Foreign Relations Committee cosponsored the bill: Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).
U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer earlier this week said he is looking to the world's wealthy nations in Copenhagen to pledge about $10 billion in aid over the next three years for developing nations to help them deploy clean energy technologies and curb emissions from deforestation, and for adaptation. Obama administration officials have said they are likely to commit about $1.3 billion this year toward that pot, reflective of the annual budget and appropriations process.
Over the long term, de Boer said developed countries should expect to contribute about $100 billion annually, though he said the meeting in Copenhagen did not need to reach consensus on those figures. Both the House-passed climate bill (H.R. 2454) and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (S. 1733) include emission allocations worth several hundred billion dollars over the four-decade lifetime of the program, though it is still far from clear if the legislation will make it to President Obama's desk and become law.
Several groups off the Hill released statements praising the Kerry-led proposal, including the U.N. Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, OxFam America, the Nature Conservancy, Business Council for Sustainable Energy, Center for Clean Air Policy, Union of Concerned Scientists, World Wildlife Fund and CARE USA.
Click here to read the bill.