Climate change is not only affecting butterflies and polar bears, it's affecting humans, too. For people living in extreme poverty, climate change presents a profound threat to their very survival.
Climate change is changing weather in dramatic ways. We are experiencing floods, droughts and cyclones with intensity and frequency never before recorded in human history.
What does this mean for the world's 1.4 billion people who subsist on a little more than a dollar a day? They are likely hungrier, sicker and poorer because of our changing climate. Families are losing their crops, homes and livelihoods.
The world's poorest are least responsible for causing climate change, yet they are suffering most from its effects. And, with the fewest resources to help them adapt to new conditions, they will pay the highest price. Indeed, they are already.
Heed President Obama's call for immediate action to help the world's poorest people by asking Congress to enact legislation now!
As the 111th Congress begins to take up the issue of climate change, I urge you to demonstrate the kind of leadership Americans can be proud of. A firm U.S. commitment to reducing our own greenhouse gas emissions, protecting the rights of forest-dependent communities and helping the most vulnerable populations adapt to new climate conditions will demonstrate that the United States is ready and willing to tackle the threat of climate change. Specifically, Congress should enact legislation to:
1. Reduce Domestic Emissions: Make deep, immediate and binding emissions cuts to keep a global increase in average temperature as far below 2 degrees Celsius as possible.
2. Protect Rights: Support the reduction of emissions from deforestation and degradation in developing countries in a manner that protects the rights and interests of indigenous peoples and other forest-dependent communities.
3. Support Adaptation: Set aside substantial funding to support adaptation in developing countries vulnerable to climate change. These funds should be new and in addition to official development assistance, and should reflect a commitment to funding our fair share of the responsibility for causing climate change.
4. Reach the Most Vulnerable: Ensure that adaptation funding reaches and responds to the priorities of the poorest populations most vulnerable to climate change.
Effectively addressing climate change requires a global response based on a shared sense of community. It also requires leadership to make and implement difficult decisions. At a time when economic challenges threaten to overwhelm the international agenda, the United States is the critical actor that can help forge and implement an international plan by the power of its example. That effort must start with passage of legislation that underscores U.S. commitment to addressing climate change.
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