A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released today by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) recommends that the federal government set clear strategic priorities and goals to align funding for emissions-reducing technologies and climate research with national efforts to address climate change. The report examined funding from 2003 to 2010 for activities related to climate change science, international assistance to address climate change and technologies that reduce greenhouse gases or increase efficiency, and comes at a time when budget fights have put funding for clean energy and other climate change efforts on the chopping block.
"This report shows the significant work the United States government is already taking to understand and address climate change while creating new jobs and industries in America. So far this has been accomplished with little national leadership," said Rep. Markey, the Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee. "In these challenging budgetary times we need to make sure funding matches national priorities. This GAO report shows us we still have work to do."
The GAO report documents a complex and cross-cutting federal effort to address climate change in a broad range from the science documenting and understanding its impact to efforts to adapt to the changes we are already experiencing and prepare for those in the future to programs to reduce our pollution and mitigate the consequences. GAO also notes that this has all been built from the bottom up from a variety of existing programs that are important to the missions of the agencies leading them.
The report says that funding for climate-related efforts increased from $4.6 billion in 2003 to $8.8 billion in 2010. Over the time period examined and setting aside funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, climate change science funding has remained basically flat, technology funding and tax expenditures have been steadily increasing and international assistance had been flat until an increase in the last two years. The Recovery Act provided $26.1 billion for climate change related programs. Technology projects, including efficiency, renewable, transmission grid and fossil fuel programs, received 98 percent of the funding. The remainder went to climate science projects.
Efforts to establish national priorities to combat climate change and increase the American production of climate-saving technologies have been blocked by Republicans in Congress. In 2009, the House passed the Waxman-Markey clean energy and climate bill, but Senate Republicans blocked efforts to pass a national energy plan.
"Instead of working to set national goals for cutting pollution and creating new clean energy jobs, Republicans in Congress are cutting climate and energy programs and preventing the federal government from taking common sense actions," said Rep. Markey.