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Congresswoman Escobar, Senator Markey Urge Biden Administration to Use Targeted Sanctions on Foreign Entities Responsible for Fueling the Climate Crisis

The U.S. has deployed sanctions in response to other foreign policy and national security emergencies, including human rights abuses, cybercrime, and corruption, but not to hold environmental polluters accountable for abuses.

As the world meets to tackle the climate crisis at the 2021 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 26th Conference of Parties (COP26), Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16), a member of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and the House Armed Services Committee, and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, led their colleagues in a bicameral letter urging the Biden administration to enhance its global strategy to prevent and mitigate harm to the environment and restrict access to the U.S. financial system for foreign individuals and companies most responsible for exacerbating climate change.

The letter, which was sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, urges the Biden Administration to use its existing authority to apply Global Magnitsky sanctions to climate-related corruption and human rights abuses abroad, and also calls for the protection of environmental defenders and climate-displaced persons.

The lawmakers also urged Secretary Blinken and Secretary Yellen to advise President Joe Biden on additional actions he could take to protect the climate, including by targeting climate offenders abroad under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).

“Given that the Biden administration has made combating climate change a top priority, a whole-of-government U.S. approach to the climate crisis should include targeted sanctions on the foreign individuals and companies that are perpetrating the worst climate damage, with a particular focus upon companies that violate human rights while harming the climate,” wrote the lawmakers in their letter. “Combined with additional climate diplomacy with key countries like China, financial sanctions would ensure that addressing the climate crisis remains at the center of U.S. foreign and national security strategy.”

The United States has deployed sanctions in response to other emergencies that affect our foreign policy and national security, including egregious human rights abuses, cybercrime, and corruption. No administration has used targeted sanctions as a method of deterring reckless, climate-destroying behavior. In combination with diplomacy, international climate aid, global agreements, and voluntary pledges that can encourage positive climate action, targeted measures could deter government officials, corporations, and private individuals from causing additional climate harm.

In addition to Congresswoman Escobar and Senator Markey, the letter was signed by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Congresswoman Escobar and Senator Markey introduced the Targeting Environmental and Climate Recklessness Act (TECRA) in April to codify the U.S.’s authority to sanction foreign individuals and companies most responsible for exacerbating climate change.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

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