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Testimony of Peter O'Driscoll, Executive Director, ActionAid USA , delivered to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee


Addressing the Impacts of Climate Change In the World's Most Vulnerable Nations

Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance, Economic Affairs and International Environmental Protection

I would like to thank the Chair, Senator Menendez, the Ranking Member Senator Corker, and all the Senators on this Subcommittee, for the opportunity to comment on how climate change is already affecting people in developing countries, and on measures the United States Senate can take to help address their urgent needs.

ActionAid is an international anti-poverty agency working in 50 countries, taking sides with poor people to end poverty and injustice together. Our approach to climate change is informed by over 35 years of experience working alongside poor and excluded people in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Climate change has become an institutional priority in recent years because of ActionAid's focus on agriculture and disaster risk reduction. Our field work has confirmed the urgent need for adaptation strategies and for significant financial commitments to avert catastrophic famine and loss of life from increased vulnerability to extreme weather events in the poorest countries.

The good news on climate is that the government of the United States is now focused on the problem. The Obama Administration has recognized the need for real negotiations on emissions reductions and the transition to a clean energy economy. And after passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act in the House in June, the Senate now takes up legislation that could improve the House bill and strengthen US contributions to resolving this global challenge.

But the bad news is that the impacts of climate change are already wreaking havoc on food production, poverty eradication programs and emergency response systems in developing countries. And no matter how much progress the Congress, the President and the international negotiators at December's United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change achieve on emissions reductions and clean technologies, global temperatures will continue to rise throughout this century, making the climate consequences worse. There is therefore no viable alternative to investing in climate adaptation: helping people, communities and entire countries face these consequences must be a central pillar of US foreign policy.