Press Release

December 18, 2020
Cardin Introduces New Climate Diplomacy Bill
Legislation spotlights climate change as a foreign policy priority State Department and USAID would be directed to more fully assess climate-related national security risks

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) and Foreign Relations committees, today introduced new legislation that will help strengthen the role of diplomacy in efforts to respond to the threats of climate change. It also would require the Secretary of State to prepare a new joint strategy with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to confront the climate crisis. Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL-22) is introducing a companion version to The Climate Change Diplomacy and Development Act in the House of Representatives.

“As President-elect Biden prepares to restore U.S. leadership in the fight against global climate change, we must ensure that the State Department and USAID implement a coordinated campaign. Developing and implementing a joint strategy, as required by this legislation, will ensure that America’s diplomatic corps has a clear game plan to respond to the grave national security threat of climate change,” said Senator Cardin. “By reengaging in the Paris Agreement and supporting programs that accelerate the transition to low-emission development and strengthen the capacity of developing nations to adapt to climate impacts, we protect American interests. The United States is the second largest emitter of planet-warming pollution, after only China, yet our emissions are approximately 15 percent of the global total. The costs of increasingly intense storms, floods, wildfires, and drought are crippling the global economy and fomenting social and political instability. We cannot solve the climate crisis alone. This legislation will help ensure that our foreign policy protects U.S. national security interests affected by climate change.”

Climate change is a global crisis that demands a united global response,” said Congressman Deutch. “The United States must use all of our foreign policy and diplomatic tools, from the State Department to USAID, to confront the global challenges of climate change. This will help ensure President-elect Biden’s success in executing foreign policy that leads the global effort to protect our planet. Congress must play an active role in helping to advance these efforts.”

The Climate Change Diplomacy and Development Act will place climate diplomacy as an integral component of foreign policy, not a niche subject matter. The bill requires the Department of State to submit the joint strategy and report on its implementation to Congress. The bill establishes that it is the Sense of Congress that the United States should use foreign assistance to developing countries to promote low-carbon, climate-resilient development. It calls for foreign assistance programs that engage women and address ways in which women are affected by climate change. The bill also calls for the State Department and USAID to lead by example by strengthening their resilience to climate challenges and reducing the carbon footprint of their facilities abroad.