WASHINGTON — House Republicans are applying a search and destroy tactic to international funding for global warming this budget season. It goes like this: Ax any line items with the words “climate change.”
Their primary targets are a pair of crucial United Nations initiatives designed to slow warming worldwide and educate policymakers about the evolving science of climate change.
On the chopping block for 2012 are millions in funding for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading scientific advisory body on global warming. The IPCC shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Vice President Al Gore in 2007, and governments often use its periodic reviews of climate risks to set targets for reducing carbon emissions.
The GOP-led effort would also cut all U.S. funding for the 19-year-old U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the main forum for the global effort to limit emissions of heat-trapping gases. UNFCCC climate treaty talks are mired in longstanding rich-poor rifts and mistrust of the United States for its refusal to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and accept binding emissions limits.
Those who support the cutbacks say they are a sign of severe belt-tightening times. But critics say Republicans are using the budget crisis to hide their loathing of any kind of climate initiative.
Even though eliminating funding for IPCC and UNFCCC has little chance of gaining traction in the Democrat-majority Senate, some worry that the negative messages these efforts are sending will reverberate around the globe and neuter this nation’s ability to lead on the climate front.