Sunday, May 31, 2009

In need of climate change cash:

By: Lisa Lerer
May 13, 2009 04:36 AM EST

A loose coalition of international aid organizations, religious groups,
environmental advocates and some businesses are lobbying Congress to
include billions for international aid in the forthcoming climate change

The groups argue that helping developing countries cut greenhouse gases
and protect against the effects of global warming is a key to success at
the international climate talks scheduled for December in Copenhagen.

"The U.S. can't go completely empty-handed to Copenhagen," said Oxfam
America President Raymond Offenheiser.

Existing problems of poverty and malnutrition in poorer countries have
been exacerbated by climate change, experts say, as changing weather
patterns and intensified storms hurt agricultural yields and

Roughly 262 million people were affected by climate disasters annually
from 2000 to 2004, with over 98 percent of them in the developing world,
according to the Human Development Report issued last year by the United
Nations Development Program.

Developing nations argue that richer countries should help them offset
these effects, given that they produce significantly more of the other
greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Rich
countries "containing just 15 percent of the world's population" account
for almost half of carbon dioxide emissions, according to UNDP.

Connie Hedegaard, Denmark's minister for climate and energy, told
reporters that a deal at Copenhagen would be impossible unless richer
nations bridge the divide between developed and developing countries
with additional funds.

"Politically, it must be additional, and that could be a game changer,"
she told reporters last week.

The UNDP estimated that by 2015, developing countries would require $86
billion a year for climate adaptation, which includes measures such as
reinforcing infrastructure, making sure water supplies are potable and
helping poor countries adapt to changing agricultural conditions.

Last month, 23 Democrats sent a letter to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.),
pushing the Energy and Commerce Committee chairman to include "robust"
international financing in his energy and climate bill. The committee is
expected to vote on the bill before the Memorial Day recess.

"Comprehensive climate change legislation should devote a significant
portion of generated revenues to investments in international
adaptation, clean technology cooperation and forest protecting
activities in the developing world," the Democrats wrote. "It is an
opportunity for leadership, innovation, economic growth at home and
abroad, and trust building with developing countries."

Waxman's draft bill proposes the creation of a specialized international
climate change program at USAID to provide assistance to the "most
vulnerable developing countries."

Some aid organizations, religious and environmental groups would like 7
percent, or $7 billion, of any revenues generated by Waxman's
legislation devoted to international adaptation efforts. The funding
would have to be flexible enough to help communities deal with different
needs, such as reinforcing buildings to deal with flooding from melting
glaciers, reducing soil erosion with reforestation programs and
diversifying agriculture practices to cope with changing environmental

Religious groups cite funding for international adaptation as their No.
1 priority for the bill.

"The moral measure of climate change legislation is how it treats the
poor and vulnerable in our own country and around the world," John Carr,
director of justice, peace and human development for the U.S. Conference
of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement.

Religious groups, sponsored by the faith-based, nonprofit American
Values Network, are running ads on Christian radio in key districts in
seven states and e-mailing more than 5.3 million evangelicals and
Catholics, urging them to support climate change legislation that pays
special attention to the needs of vulnerable communities at home and

The prospective funding could also help mitigate the new national
security risks created by changing weather conditions, the groups argue.
Droughts, famines and floods caused by global warming could destabilize
regions around the world as competition increases for food and water.

"Supporting climate readiness now can help avert global instability and
will save billions of dollars down the road in emergency relief and
military engagement by reducing the worst effects of climate-related
disasters," a group of 24 international aid and environmental groups
wrote in a March letter to the heads of the House Energy and Commerce
Committee and its Energy and Environment Subcommittee.

Cap and Trade: Swallow That Term

Democrats are getting their talking points in order as the climate
change debate heats up this week.

On Monday, pollster Mark Mellman briefed Democratic press aides in the
House on the most politically savvy ways to talk about climate change.
The briefing aimed to prepare the press secretaries for the crush of
coverage expected this week, after Energy and Commerce Committee
Chairman Henry Waxman unveils his complex climate and energy bill.

The meeting, a weekly confab for House press secretaries, was one of the
most well-attended since January, according to one participant.

The phrase "clean energy jobs" is the best way to explain the benefits
of climate change legislation, according to polling presented in
PowerPoint by Mellman.

Using "cap and trade" to describe the legislation - which creates an
auction market for carbon emissions - is a mistake, because voters find
the term confusing. Also to be avoided is "green jobs," a phrase popular
with environmentalists to describe careers in renewable energy, energy
efficiency and other types of sustainable technologies. Voters think the
term describes white-collar jobs for highly educated professors,
according to Democratic aides at the meeting.

A Rasmussen poll released on Monday found that just 24 percent of voters
correctly identified the cap-and-trade proposal as dealing with
environmental issues. Slightly more - 29 percent - thought the term was
about regulating Wall Street, and 17 percent thought it had to do with
health care reform. Thirty percent had no idea.

(c) 2009 Capitol News Company, LLC

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Oxfam America Reaction to Climate Bill



Washington, DC – International development organization Oxfam America praised members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee for passing the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454), but urged for the international provisions of the bill to be strengthened in order to enable President Obama to lead negotiations for a global climate deal in Copenhagen this December.

The bill is historic as it commits to curbing global warming pollution, puts our nation and others on a clean energy development pathway, and addresses and finances the needs of vulnerable communities both at home and abroad who are on the front lines of climate change.

“Getting the Waxman-Markey bill out of the Energy and Commerce Committee is a history-making effort in enacting US climate and clean energy legislation,” said Jim Lyons, vice-president of Oxfam America. “But while this bill is a giant leap in US climate change legislation, it is too small of a step towards what’s needed for a global climate deal in Copenhagen this December.”

Last minute attempts to eliminate important international provisions in the bill were rejected. If passed, these amendments would have seriously undermined the United States’ leadership role in the international climate negotiations and would have shortchanged significant business opportunities abroad for America companies.

“Poor countries didn’t create the problem, but they have to deal with the consequences. It’s in America’s best interest to help the most vulnerable adapt to global warming’s consequences and cooperate with them to pursue clean energy pathways,” said Lyons.

“Developing countries have made it crystal clear that without real cooperation and resources, there won’t be a global climate deal,” said Lyons. “A substantial increase in resources for the most vulnerable countries will be essential for the President to strike a global climate deal.”

It PASSED!! 2 articles on the American Clean Energy and Security Act

CongressDaily AM for Friday, May 22, 2009


On a near party-line vote, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Thursday approved a climate and energy strategy after four days of public debate, offering a taste perhaps of the tough talks ahead that the panel's leaders will have with other Democratic committee chairs.

After roughly 37 hours and 94 amendments, the panel approved the bill, 33-25.

Four in the Blue Dog Coalition -- Reps. Charlie Melancon of Louisiana, Mike Ross of Arkansas, Jim Matheson of Utah and John Barrow of Georgia -- voted "no." California Rep. Mary Bono Mack was the only Republican to support it.

Bono Mack afterward said she voted yes despite one last pitch from Energy and Commerce ranking member Joe Barton during the final round of votes on the House floor before the committee's final roll call vote. "Still a long way to go, but I think it's important to move the process forward, and I do believe that the full House of Representatives deserves a debate," she said.

Among other things, she wants the bill to better address nuclear energy.

She was a rare Republican on the panel not to cite fundamental opposition to a cap-and-trade program. "Being from California changes things significantly, the fact that we are already doing this," she said.

While Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Edward Markey, D-Mass., have gotten enough backing for their plan so far, some Democrats on their committee are seeking changes, including scaling back the bill's 2020 emission reduction goal. "I think a lot of us are interested to see what this looks like once it's gotten past the other committees," Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., added.

There are clearly differences to hash out with Democratic leaders on a couple of those other panels.

Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson said Thursday that while he is waiting to see the final version, the Energy and Commerce Committee has "an urban-dominated bill" that "is going no place in the Senate."

Such sentiment compounds his concern about EPA proposing to count international land-use toward calculating the climate-impact of using corn-based ethanol.

Waxman's committee Wednesday defeated an amendment from Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., that would have done away with the bill's requirement that an EPA lifecycle greenhouse gas analysis for ethanol had to take into account possible international deforestation. Peterson said that language and other concerns he has would each on their own keep him from supporting the bill. "In my district, no vote would be a good vote," Peterson said.

He is concerned about allowing international activities such as agriculture and forestry to be used to offset emission reduction targets. Peterson wants all of the offsets to be domestic.

He says rural electricity cooperatives -- as well as municipal plants -- receive three-quarters of the free emission credits that larger utilities receive. He also echoes some Ways and Means Democrats who fear a carbon market would lead to widespread speculation and manipulation that will adversely affect commodity and financial markets. "I'm not for Wall Street having anything to do with carbon ... because you can't trust them,"

Peterson said

He promised that 45 or so other House Democrats share at least some of these concerns, particularly regarding ethanol. Four Democrats -- Reps. Zack Space of Ohio, Baron Hill of Indiana and Ross and Barrow -- voted for Terry's amendment.

Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., a member of the Agriculture and Ways and Means panels and a Blue Dog alongside Peterson, said no Agriculture Democrats spoke up when Peterson voiced his reservations at a recent meeting. "So I don't think he's bluffing," Pomeroy said. "I think he's got the support he's saying he does."

While Pomeroy is not as worried about setting up a carbon market, he says the bill's 17 percent by 2020 cap-and-trade emission reduction target is "steeper than can be reasonably reached."

Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., has said he wants to scale that back to 14 percent, which President Obama has recommended.

Peterson said he has not yet set up a meeting with Waxman for after the recess. "Henry has got enough problems dealing with his committee members," said Peterson, comparing it to farm bill negotiations he helped lead.

He met with House Speaker Pelosi Wednesday and "she understands my concern [and] wants to pass a bill." Peterson also lunched with Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Wednesday and spoke previously to EPA Administrator Jackson and said the administration "is hanging their hat" on a peer review of EPA's plan to take international land use changes into account when determining the climate impact of ethanol.

Peterson said the peer review is just a formality. "We don't need to peer-review anything to know what the outcome is going to be," he said.

Waxman said he will draw up language on the dicey issue of siting a renewable energy electricity transmission network after Markey holds a hearing and by the time the bill reaches the House floor.

Matheson wants to add free credits for small business refiners. The bill currently gives credits to refiners generally. Waxman said he would work with him on a possible floor amendment.

Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel has indicated that healthcare reform is a bigger priority for him than finishing a climate bill, though Pelosi will obviously dictate the floor schedule. House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson of Connecticut, also a Ways and Means member, said both climate and healthcare legislation are important and will get done in the full House before August. "It's just that when you go home, you run into people who are losing their job and losing their health care," he said.

Energy and Commerce panel passes cap-and-trade bill, 33-25 (05/21/2009 at 08:34 PM)

Darren Samuelsohn, E&E senior reporter

The House Energy Commerce Committee voted 33-25 tonight to pass sweeping legislation that would overhaul U.S. energy and global warming policy.

Democrats largely held together in support of the 946-page bill shaped over several months of closed-door negotiations and nearly 40 hours of debate this week. Only one Republican supported the bill, as GOP opponents unified against the measure, insisting it was a costly and unattainable measure to be pushing in a tight economy.

While Democrats have long been promising success in committee, several Democratic swing votes remained at the center of attention. Reps. John Barrow of Georgia, Jim Matheson of Utah, Mike Ross of Arkansas and Charles Melancon of Louisiana voted with the Republicans against the bill.

On the GOP side, Rep. Mary Bono Mack of California bucked her party leadership and supported the legislation. Mack was the only committee Republican to publicly remain neutral on the climate bill.

"While I still have significant concerns about this bill, particularly with regard to its cost and its failure to recognize innovative technologies like advanced nuclear energy, I believe this is the right direction for our district, for our nation and for our future," Bono Mack said in a statement.

During the weeklong markup, Democrats defeated a suite of GOP amendments that would have scuttled the cap-and-trade program if it prompted job losses or energy price increases. But lawmakers made several other changes, adding amendments to create a federal "clean energy" bank and a "cash for clunkers" plan that gives consumers $3,500 to $4,500 vouchers toward replacing gas-guzzling cars with efficient models.

Democratic sponsors hailed the bill's historic passage through the powerful panel, the first time a House committee has ever endorsed a mandatory cap on the industrial pollutants that scientists have linked to global warming.

But now comes the hard part. Several committees will have a chance to assert their jurisdiction over the legislation, with the Democratic leaders of the Agriculture and Ways and Means committees threatening to hold up the bill for their own reasons.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is expected to play a key role in shepherding the legislation onto the floor, perhaps before the August recess. Senate action remains a work in progress, particularly on the cap-and-trade provisions that remain well short of the 60 votes needed to defeat a filibuster.

President Obama backs the climate and energy bill but has largely stayed away from the details of the legislation.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Will our mail to the Congress work?

It's different for some states as opposed to others, but here in Vermont where our representatives are taking a stand for energy efficiency and clean technology programs, the matter is more about speaking up for a part of the bill that can easily be overlooked -- climate adaptation.

To read a bit about how other states may or may not be responding to constituent appeals, check out this NYT article:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Follow the Action on the House's Climate Bill

Congressional markup is underway in the Energy and Commerce Committee. You can watch the action online! It's a great civics lesson, and quite a change of pace from typical prime time entertainment. :-D

If you hear anybody making statements in support of adaptation and helping reduce impacts on low-income people, please let us know who said what by emailing Here are links to use:

Energy and Commerce video live:

C-SPAN3 has been carrying it today on and off:

For video of the opening session Monday (5/18), including opening
statements, go to:

URGENT ACTION NEEDED: Help VT Oxfam Action Corps pass a strong bill on climate change and impact on the poor

Dear VT Oxfam Action Corps Members,

Thank you for your interest in the Oxfam Action Corps and dedication to Oxfam’s work to end poverty, hunger, and injustice. I'm writing to present an important action for you to take right now.

At this moment we urgently need support for a climate bill being debated right now in an influential committee of the US House of Representatives, the Energy and Commerce Committee, of which Congressman Peter Welch is a member. We are asking for your specific help to call upon Representative Welch in the House to not only support this climate change bill, but also to be a champion of international adaptation funding.

Currently, the Energy and Commerce Committee is drafting the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. This bill has the ability to transition our nation to clean and affordable energy, create quality jobs, and could generate crucial international financing to help vulnerable communities cope with the devastating impacts of increased floods, droughts, famine, water scarcity, disease, environmental migration, and armed conflict over resources.

It is essential that we get Congress to support a fair and safe bill by taking these two simple actions.

First, click this link and send this e-action. It only takes a moment.

Secondly, please call Peter Welch's office at:
DC office: 202-225-4115. *If possible, ask to speak with Andrew Savage (Deputy Chief of Staff/Legislative Director). Tuipate and I met with him in April regarding this legislation.

VT office: 802-652-2450. * If possible, speak with Patricia Coates (State Director). Tuipate and I stopped by yesterday morning to drop off handwritten letters from the Sisters on the Planet screening on Saturday. She is highly supportive of our work for climate justice and needs the constituent backing to show the Congressman that Vermonters want him to stand up for international adaptation funding.

Simply call his office and ask him to support international adaptation on the Clean Energy and Security Act. We have provided you with sample text below that you can use as a guide. Call during business hours. If you can’t, then call anytime and leave a message.

If you don't live in VT, or have roots in another home state, other important committee members to reach out to are: Bobby Rush (IL), Jan Schakowsky (IL), Elliot Engel (NY), Charles Gonzalez (TX), Anna Eshoo, (No. CA), Doris Matsui (No.CA), Jane Harman (So.CA), and Henry Waxman (Chair of Committee, So. CA). If you have family or friends in any of these states, please forward this action alert to them.

The full list of members can be found at

Lastly, please write us back!!

Once you call, email us back at and let us know
how it went.

WHAT TO SAY: Draft phone text:

Hello, my name is [fill-in] and I am a resident calling to voice some comments
on the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 that Representative
[fill-in name] and other members of the Energy and Commerce Committee are
currently working on.

First, it is very important that the bill allows for substantial funding for
international and domestic adaptation by auctioning carbon permits. Adaptation
funds will help poor and vulnerable communities around the world cope with more
erratic weather and increased floods and droughts. Climate change is a global
problem and it will require global solutions. Investing in international
adaptation helps our world become less prone to conflict and migration. It is
the right thing to do especially since the U.S. emits over 25% of the world's
greenhouse gases.

Adaptation funding also gives low-income consumers in the U.S. access to
affordable clean energy, and will allow our state and the larger U.S. to invest
in green-collar jobs, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.

Finally, I want to voice my support for maintaining the emission reductions
proposed in the original draft of the bill. In order to avoid future disasters
we need an 80% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2050.

I want to thank Rep. Welch for his active leadership as a member of the Energy
and Commerce Committee. His guidance can help pass strong and effective climate


Thank you for all your hard work in helping us create solutions to poverty and


Nathaly Agosto Filion, Co-Organizer
Tuipate F. Mubiay, Co-Organizer

Vermont Oxfam Action Corps

Oxfam Action Corps, VT
Working together to end poverty and injustice.

UVM Carbonators: The Movie!

This is really hilarious! Talk about fighting climate change!

Check it out: