Washington (April 23, 2021) – Today, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16), a member of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and the House Armed Services Committee, announced the reintroduction of the Targeting Environmental and Climate Recklessness Act (TECRA), legislation to restrict access to the U.S. financial system for those individuals and companies most responsible for exacerbating climate change. The legislation would also ensure that existing human rights and sanctions under the Global Magnitsky program cover corruption that results in climate-damaging projects as well as human rights abuses of environment defenders and climate-displaced persons.

The United States has successfully restricted financial access for foreign individuals and companies involved in egregious behaviors, including cybercrime, human rights abuses, corruption, and wildlife trafficking, yet no restriction exists for the people and entities destroying our environment. As the Biden administration begins efforts to combat the effects of climate change at home and abroad, the people and companies responsible for the worst pollution, deforestation, and abuses against environmental defenders should be held to account.

“The climate crisis is an existential threat to our planet so we must exhaust all of the tools we possess to hold destructive companies and individuals responsible for contributing to the worst effects of climate change accountable.” said Senator Markey. “As the real-world impacts of climate change continue to grow, we must urgently and strategically enhance our global strategy to prevent and mitigate harm to the environment, while working to protect those that advocate on the planet’s behalf. This legislation will allow the United States to take the first step to create a global framework to hold environmental polluters accountable, while strengthening our foreign policy approach through mitigation and cooperation.”

“We are living in the midst of a climate crisis that can no longer be ignored and must be addressed with urgency and bold action,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “As the Biden administration and Congress continue pushing progress at home, it is imperative that we also ensure we have strong foreign policy tools to hold accountable bad foreign actors who engage in reckless behaviors that exacerbate this existential threat. I am proud to introduce the Targeting Environmental and Climate Recklessness Act alongside Senator Markey – a climate champion – to meet the moment and protect our planet for future generations.”

This climate sanctions legislation specifically:
  • Provides discretionary authority to the United States government to target specific foreign individuals and companies involved in, or providing financial support to, the most destructive climate actions.  
  • Provides authority to the United States government to hold accountable those companies and individuals that misrepresent the dangerous environmental impact of their products or deceive multilateral institutions about environmental impacts for competitive gain.  
  • Ensures that existing human rights and corruption sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act cover the corruption that leads to climate-damaging projects, as well as human rights abuses committed against environmental defenders and climate-displaced persons.  
  • Recognizes the need to work with the People’s Republic of China on combatting climate change and the promotion of clean energy while still holding them accountable for their continued human rights abuses, coercive economic practices, and violations of international law. 

"Climate recklessness is a crime against people and the planet, and it's time for the U.S. government to use tools such as sanctions to fight it," said Ka Hsaw Wa, Executive Director of EarthRights International. "To survive this climate crisis, we need to shift behavior on a large and unprecedented scale, which starts with holding those who recklessly destroy our climate accountable for their actions.” 
“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 like those destroying climate-critical forests and their financial backers. We must curb the abuses of those complicit in silencing or attacking environmental and land defenders around the world. This bill sends a strong signal to investors that companies that recklessly damage the environment and climate will no longer be welcome in the U.S. financial system.”