Pelosi, top Dems will back Clinton’s climate aid pledge to poor nations

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other senior Democrats vowed in Copenhagen Thursday to back up Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s pledge to increase U.S. climate aid for poor nations.

But Democrats also endorsed Clinton’s linking the commitment to China and other nations making their emissions curbs subject to outside verification, a major issue of dispute at the international climate summit.

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“We salute the announcement that Secretary Clinton made earlier today,” Pelosi said at a press briefing, flanked by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and five committee chairmen. “We are fully prepared to be able to meet the commitment of the United States.”

She pointed to funding for international adaptation in the sweeping energy and climate bill the House approved in June, as well as Congress’s power of the purse. Many poor nations are vulnerable to changes such as increased frequency of climate-related diseases, drought, and displacement.

Clinton pledged that the U.S. would join other wealthy nations in jointly providing $100 billion annually in climate finance to developing countries by 2020.

Clinton’s announcement Thursday, part of an effort to get the faltering talks on track, go beyond the earlier U.S. pledge to work with other countries to jointly provide $10 billion in the 2010-2012 period.

“Today I’d like to announce that, in the context of a strong accord in which all major economies stand behind meaningful mitigation actions and provide full transparency as to their implementation, the United States is prepared to work with other countries toward a goal of jointly mobilizing $100 billion a year by 2020 to address the climate change needs of developing countries,” Clinton said.

“We expect this funding will come from a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance,” she added.

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), who co-sponsored the House climate bill, called on China to agree to verification measures.

“We do need China to accept transparency as part of this process. It is going to be an indispensable part of the confidence-building to ensure every country is doing their fair share,” said Markey, who chairs the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

“As President Reagan once said, ‘Trust, but verify,’” Hoyer added.

The Associated Press reported Thursday morning that a top Chinese official said the country is willing to provide details about its emissions controls.
 
Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei said after Clinton’s pledge that the country is ready for "dialogue and cooperation that is not intrusive, that does not infringe on China's sovereignty,” according to AP.

Markey’s co-sponsor, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), said that climate and energy legislation will benefit the U.S., but also noted the importance of an international agreement as the Senate considers climate legislation, which is scheduled to occur next year.

“Americans are going to ask, ‘What are the other countries doing? How are they going to be part of the effort?,” he said.


Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who is trying to shepherd a climate bill through the Senate, Wednesday said an agreement in Copenhagen was essential to advancing a plan through Congress.

Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee, is also part of the bipartisan House delegation. He played a key role in crafting provisions in the House bill that allow the U.S. to impose “border adjustments,”  or carbon tariffs, on energy-intensive imports from nations that do not require major emissions curbs.

Levin, who chairs the subcommittee on trade, is in Copenhagen to defend the provisions, his office said in announcing his participation in the House delegation.

“He is working to ensure that climate change negotiations will result in a global solution to this global problem and will not unfairly disadvantage U.S. industry and workers,” his office said.

The provisions are aimed at protecting U.S. competitiveness and preventing “carbon leakage,” or the migration of energy-intensive manufacturing to countries with lax emissions controls.