Media CenterAhead of COP26, here are four policy recommendations for the U.S. government

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Brittany Wichtendahl
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
(757) 748-5003

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, Oct. 27, 2021 – In advance of COP26, the United Nations’ highly-anticipated climate change conference, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) provides critical humanitarian and development policy recommendations for the U.S. government.

“The U.S. must deliver on prior commitments while advancing new ones. Business-as-usual is no longer an option,” said Bill O’Keefe, CRS’ executive vice president for Mission, Mobilization and Advocacy.”

During the summit, known as COP26, more than 190 world leaders will convene in Glasgow, Scotland to reconsider emissions targets and to make climate-related financial commitments. In the past, COP meetings have led to crucial international climate interventions, such as the Paris Agreement (2015) and the Kyoto Protocol (1997). 

“The latest IPCC report validates what we’ve witnessed—that climate change is shifting the weather to such an extent that it’s making it nearly impossible for poor farmers to earn a living,” O’Keefe said. “Things will only get worse unless collective action is taken to diminish our toll on the environment.”

CRS works with communities worldwide to adapt to climate change, including preparing for natural disasters and restoring degraded land. In fact, by 2030, CRS aims to restore 1.6 million hectares of land while growing global agricultural yields by 50%. ​​​

CRS’ policy recommendations for the U.S. government:

  1. Fulfill existing financial commitments: In 2009, countries agreed to provide by 2020 $100 billion annually to the developing world to cope with climate change and reduce emissions. The earliest this commitment might be met is 2023. The U.S. must lead the diplomatic effort to more quickly fulfill pledges and to increase financial commitments beyond this initial $100 billion. Further, it’s essential that the funding be directed to communities rather than only to governments. The Biden administration’s pledge to work with Congress to double U.S. climate funding to $11.4 billion per year by 2024 helps, but the U.S. could do more. According to an Overseas Development Institute fair share analysis, the U.S. should be contributing between $32 to $49 billion in climate financing per year.
  2. Commit to adaptation: The U.S. government should ensure that 50% of all global climate funding goes toward adaptation. Alarmingly, adaptation only accounts for 25 percent of all global climate financing. It’s imperative we close this gap so the world’s most vulnerable people can survive and thrive.
  3. Take a people-centered approach to adaptation: Climate action should be designed with the most vulnerable people in mind to address inequities that have worsened over time, especially during the pandemic. It should also empower local climate groups and organizations to lead these efforts.
  4. Expand land restoration efforts: An estimated 40% of agricultural land worldwide is degraded. As a result, the lives of small farmers and their families have increasingly come under threat. Sustainable landscape programming should be drastically scaled up and implemented in partnership with local communities.


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, visit or and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media in English at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube; and in Spanish at: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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Nikki Gamer

Senior Public Affairs Manager

Nikki Gamer
October 27, 2021

Based in Baltimore, MD

Nikki is the Senior Public Affairs Manager for CRS and connects journalists to regional stories and sources related to the agency’s life-saving development work. Previously, Nikki worked as the Communications Officer for the Middle East, Europe, and Central Asia. She has covered CRS’ response to the Syrian refugee crisis and the mass displacement...More