Statement: Omnibus Bill is “Climate Austerity”

March 14, 2022

Conservation International Statement on $1.5 trillion spending bill passed by Congress

Arlington, VA (March 14, 2022) – Conservation International released the following statement today from CEO Dr. M. Sanjayan in response to the $1.5 trillion omnibus bill recently passed by Congress. The spending bill comes on the heels of a sobering Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, yet fails to fund climate mitigation and adaptation with urgency:

“Climate change is already plunging coastal communities into the sea and ravaging food supplies, but the House of Representatives has decided that addressing this crisis isn’t worth the political capital. This budget allocates just 30 percent of what was proposed by the White House, and barely more than Trump-era budgets. The word ‘climate’ appears only twice in the 2,741-page bill, hardly the signal the world needs. 

“This is what climate austerity looks like.

“The omnibus fails to allocate a single dollar to the United Nations Green Climate Fund (GCF). This is a shocking abdication of U.S. climate leadership – and a betrayal of the countries least responsible for the climate crisis, yet most endangered by it. A well-resourced GCF helps frontline countries reduce emissions and adapt to rising sea levels, unpredictable weather and dwindling resources. Failing to pay our fair share will undermine trust in the U.S. and jeopardize global climate cooperation, exactly when multilateralism is so important. The U.S. government cannot seriously ask countries to commit to investments we ourselves are not willing to make. If this budget is all we can muster, our delegates will rightfully be laughed out of the room at international negotiations.

“I recognize that legislating is difficult, and no deal will ever be perfect – but there are some things we cannot afford to compromise on. New urgent priorities have appeared, but nonetheless our country is big enough and great enough to prioritize more than one thing at a time. The FY23 budget must right these wrongs with bold investments in international climate action; legislators must immediately revive the climate provisions from the Build Back Better package; and the Administration must identify alternative ways to fund the GCF in the interim.

“Leaders who recognize the threat posed by climate change but delay decisive action for the sake of convenience will be judged most harshly by our own children and grandchildren. As humanity’s clock ticks down, we have little room for error and absolutely no time for political paralysis.”

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About Conservation International: Conservation International protects nature for the benefit of humanity. Through science, policy, fieldwork and finance, we spotlight and secure the most important places in nature for the climate, for biodiversity and for people. With offices in 30 countries and projects in more than 100 countries, Conservation International partners with governments, companies, civil society, Indigenous peoples and local communities to help people and nature thrive together. Go to Conservation.org for more, and follow our work on Conservation News, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram and YouTube.