Boston (November 25, 2019) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and chair of the Climate Change Task Force, introduced the Targeting Environmental and Climate Recklessness Act, legislation to restrict access to the U.S. financial system for those individuals and companies most responsible for exacerbating climate change. 


Because the United States already restricts financial access for foreign individuals and companies involved in unacceptable behavior including cybercrime, corruption, and wildlife trafficking, the same foreign policy tool should be one part of our comprehensive efforts to reduce the existential risk posed by climate change. Senator Markey’s legislation would provide discretionary authority to target specific foreign individuals and companies involved in, or providing financial support to, the most destructive of climate actions. The legislation also provides authority to target companies and individuals that knowingly misrepresent the environmental impact of their products or investments, whether to deceive multilateral institutions or to exploit environmental concerns for competitive gain.


While deforestation and associated human rights abuses continue globally, foreign investments in fossil fuels “lock in” our addiction across the developing world as energy demand grows. Senator Markey’s bill would ensure that existing human rights and corruption sanctions under the Global Magnitsky program cover corruption that results in climate-damaging projects as well as gross human rights abuses of environment defenders and climate-displaced persons.


“As we fight to enact a Green New Deal here at home, we must use all of the tools or our foreign policy to change the behavior of companies and individuals most responsible for exacerbating the climate crisis,” said Senator Markey. “Climate change has disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable communities around the world, and targeted measures to deter recklessness climate pollution would help ensure that urgent efforts to mitigate climate risk do not worsen global inequality. This legislation would bring us closer to a complete U.S. global strategy that matches the magnitude of the climate crisis.”  


On September 27, Senator Markey introduced first of its kind legislation (S.2565) to create both a global climate resilience strategy and a new humanitarian program for those who have been displaced by environmental disasters or climate change.


A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.


“The United States is the world's largest climate offender, and as Senator Markey has recognized, our first priority needs to be addressing our own emissions and providing a just transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Katie Redford, Director, EarthRights International. “But we also need to make sure that progress here is not undermined by reckless actions of corporations around the world that continue to profit from exacerbating the climate crisis.”


“Global Witness fully supports the Senate’s efforts to sanction those most responsible for the climate crisis,” said Zorka Milin, Senior Legal Advisor, Global Witness. “This includes environmentally destructive industries and their financial backers as well as those complicit in silencing or attacking environmental and land defenders around the world. This bill sends a signal to investors that companies that recklessly damage the environment and climate will no longer be welcome in the U.S. financial system.”