Washington (August 2, 2022) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led his colleagues Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) today in sending letters to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power, and International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) CEO Scott Nathan urging them to mobilize the U.S. government to support environmental defenders across the globe. Environmental defenders face a heightened risk of violence and persecution for their advocacy, often at the hands of private actors and governments whose political or economic interests undermine the health and safety of frontline communities and natural habitats.
“In 2020, 227 land and environmental defenders were murdered across the globe,” wrote the Senators. “Countless others face death threats, surveillance, sexual violence, or criminalization, which often go underreported due to insufficient monitoring or restrictions on a free press.”
“The number of reported attacks grows each year, and we expect this trend to continue as the climate crisis deepens,” the Senators continued. “The Department of State, USAID, and DFC should take immediate steps to put the full weight of the United States behind the crucial work done by environmental defenders around the world.”
In April 2021, Senator Markey and Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) introduced the Targeting Environmental and Climate Recklessness Act (TECRA), legislation that would ensure that existing human rights sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act cover corruption that results in damage to the climate, as well as human rights abuses against environment defenders and people displaced as a result of climate change. In November, the lawmakers wrote to Secretary Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urging the 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.
Read a copy of the letter HERE.