Expert Slams GOP Threat to Climate-Change Study

     (CN) — A leading scientist condemned what he called a “rash and intemperate” threat by Republican senators to sideline global funding of climate-change programs unless the United Nations ousts Palestine.
     Current and former presidential aspirants Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are among the 28 senators who fired off the warning Monday in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on April 18.
     The letter comes just over a month after the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its affiliated organizations granted Palestine full membership on March 17.
     Cruz and the other Republicans say the convention’s inclusion of Palestine “triggered a statutory restriction … that now prohibits the U.S. government from providing U.S. taxpayer funds to the UNFCCC.”
     If the convention lets any U.S. funds change hands, the senators warn, the result “will constitute a violation of current law.”
     In force since 1994, the UNFCCC describes its objective as stabilizing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations “at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”
     Discussing the letter in an interview, climate scientist Ken Caldeira called it a “transparent attempt to prevent solid climate science.”
     “Instead of making us look like a country at the forefront of scientific and technical progress, Senators Cruz and Rubio are making us look like a medieval backwater,” said Caldeira, of the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Global Ecology.
     Caldeira, a professor with Stanford University’s Department of Earth System Science, added that cutting U.S. funding for climate-change programs indicates “a loss of influence on the part of the United States.”
     “If we fail to develop the new technologies needed to meet the climate challenge, we will hand the technical baton to the other countries that are passing us by, leaving us in the dust,” Caldeira added.
     By qualifying their support of well-established scientific facts in the policy process,
     Caldeira said that the so-called Senate “leaders” are demonstrating a preference for “faith-based policies over fact-based policies.”
     “Hopefully, prudence will win out in the end,” Caldeira added, “and Senators Cruz and Rubio will come to see the error of their ways, and withdraw this rash and intemperate letter, so that the United States may play a more constructive role on the international stage.”
     The Republicans’ letter complains that Palestine’s new membership in the UNFCCC undermines negotiations to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
     Cruz and the other senators called it “extremely troublesome” that the United States would have trouble blocking Palestine’s membership “as a state by the UNFCCC,” since the United States does not recognize “the state of Palestine.”
     Congress passed the law Cruz and his ilk cited in 1994. They say it prohibits the distribution of taxpayer funds to “any affiliated organization of the United Nations which grants full membership as a state to any organization or group that does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood.”
     The UNFCCC, the senators say, is an “affiliated organization of the United Nations.” UNFCCC-related entities named in the letter are the UNFCCC Secretariat, the Green Climate Fund, the Conference of the Parties (COP), and COP as the meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol.
     In addition to Cruz, of Texas, and Rubio, of Florida, two dozen other Republican senators signed letter to Secretary Kerry.
     They are Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; John Boozman, R-Ark.; Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; Bill Cassidy, R-La.; Dan Coats, R-Ind.; John Cornyn, R-Texas; Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Steve Daines, R-Mont.; Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.; Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; James Lankford, R-Okla.; Mike Lee, R-Utah; Jerry Moran, R-Kan.; Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; Mike Rounds, R-S.D.; Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.; Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska; John Thune, R-S.D.; Thom Tillis, R-N.C.; Pat Toomey, R-Pa.; David Vitter, R-La.; and Roger Wicker, R-Miss. “We urge the administration to clarify, both publicly and privately, that the United States does not consider the ‘State of Palestine’ to be a sovereign state, and to work diligently to prevent the Palestinians from being recognized as a sovereign state for purposes of joining UN affiliated organizations, treaties, conventions, and agreements,” the letter concludes.

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