Texas lawmaker introduces bill to slap sanctions on polluting foreign corporations

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Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-El Paso) introduced legislation this week that would allow Washington to impose financial sanctions on foreign businesses that contribute significantly to climate change. 

“Climate change is an urgent global crisis that demands a strong and swift response,” Congresswoman Escobar said in a statement. “As Congress continues to push for ambitious climate action by the United States, it is imperative that we also ensure we have the foreign policy tools necessary to combat this threat and protect our planet for future generations.”

The “Targeting Environmental and Climate Recklessness Act” does not commit the U.S. to any financial sanctions. Rather, it expands the legal framework that allows Washington to target foreign actors that exacerbate the climate crisis. 

A Senate version of the bill was introduced by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) in November. 

“Congresswoman Escobar understands that even as we fight to enact a Green New Deal here at home, we must use all of the tools of our foreign policy to change the behavior of companies and individuals most responsible for hastening to the climate crisis,” said Senator Markey.

Escobar is one of four Texas members of Congress to sign onto Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal to create a Green New Deal, a plan to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a sweeping public works program. Reps. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio), Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin), and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston) have also signed onto the plan.

Human activity has already caused an increase in global temperatures by 1 degree beyond pre-industrial levels, according to the latest report by the IPCC, an intergovernmental body of the United Nations focusing on climate change. The international community has less than a dozen years to prevent climate change from warming global temperatures by another 1.5°C (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), or else risk long-lasting or irreversible damage to Earth’s ecosystems.

This week, NASA revealed that 2019 was the second warmest year on record, losing only to 2016. According to NASA, every decade since the 1960s has been warmer than the one before. “We crossed over into more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1°C) warming territory in 2015 and we are unlikely to go back,” said NASA’s GISS Director Gavin Schmidt said in a statement. “This shows that what’s happening is persistent, not a fluke due to some weather phenomenon: we know that the long-term trends are being driven by the increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

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