Dear Chair Yarmuth and Chair Lowey:
The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report and the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA) highlight the critical need for the United States to more effectively address known causes of climate change. As we consider future budgets and appropriations, we must adjust spending levels to respond to the latest science and to repeated calls from the scientific community to invest in efforts to meaningfully address climate change.
Congress cannot afford to maintain the status quo. The IPCC report found that climate change is occurring earlier and more rapidly than expected and that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society. If we maintain the status quo, we only have 12 years before we will reach a global warming of 1.5°C. According to the NCA, the dominant cause is human activities, particularly greenhouse gas emissions. We already see the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather events, deadly wildfires, rising sea levels, and diminishing Arctic sea ice. Inaction and underinvestment will increase the risk of long-lasting or irreversible change.
We must keep these concerns front and center as we determine subcommittee allocations that sufficiently scale up research and development, resiliency, and mitigation to address the climate crisis. Under Republican control, Congress underfunded these critical programs. For example, the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy has never been funded at the scale or level of resources Congress envisioned. The National Academy of Sciences recommended a base level of $300 million in 2007, rising to $1 billion by 2011. Despite universal stakeholder agreement with those recommendations, Congress has failed to significantly scale beyond the initial $300 million recommendation. Similarly, demand for grants for coastal resiliency exceed availability. In fiscal year 2017, 167 proposals requesting more than $135 million in funding competed for just $15 million in grant funding.
As the IPCC report mentions, we minimize future climate risk and associated costs by upscaling and accelerating climate mitigation and adaptation. Now, with the new Democratic Majority, as Congress proceeds through the budget and appropriations cycle for fiscal year 2020, it is imperative that we meet the investment demanded to effectively respond to the latest climate science. Doing so will enable us to combat the climate crisis and protect our world for future generations.