Dems Release Climate Plan, But is it Enough?

July 5, 2020

Inside Climate News:

House Democrats unveiled a sweeping plan for climate action Tuesday that embraces much of the ambition of the Green New Deal, while avoiding the use of the name and steering clear of calls for abrupt bans on fossil fuel development.

Instead, the package of more than 120 pieces of legislation seeks to drive a transition to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, achieved by reaching into every corner of the U.S. economy with new investments, standards and incentives favoring clean energy, jobs creation, lands protection and environmental justice.

The report drew criticism both from those who want to see a more rapid retreat from fossil fuels, and those who think the Democrats should have sought more common ground with the GOP. While the plan has no chance of coming to fruition in the current Congress, its endorsement by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and moderate Democrats sets a marker for what is possible if the Democrats gain control of the government next year.

“To the young people who have urged us to act fearlessly, we have heard you,” said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, who led development of the 500-page report by the panel’s Democrats. Castor and panel member Rep. A. Donald McEachen (D-Va.) are both members of a task force appointed by former vice president Joe Biden, the Democrats’ presumed presidential nominee, to advise him and party platform writers on climate policy this summer.

In an indication of how far the Democratic party’s center of gravity on climate has moved in two years, the report won some praise from the youth-led Sunrise Movement, which had been critical of Pelosi and skeptical that Castor’s committee would have sufficient power.

The plan is “a real sign that young people are changing politics in this country and the establishment is scrambling to catch up,” said Lauren Maunus, Sunrise’s legislative manager, in a prepared statement. “This plan is more ambitious than anything we have seen from Democratic leadership so far, but it still needs to go further to match the full scale of the crisis.”

Although Sunrise didn’t get into specifics, other groups on the left said they would have liked to see a ban on fracking, a ban on exports and imports of fossil fuels, and an immediate halt to new fossil fuel infrastructure such as pipelines.

“This climate proposal inexplicably and inexcusably fails to call for a halt to the extraction of fossil fuels,” said Mitch Jones, policy director of Food & Water Action. “It is simply not an adequate attempt to deal with the crisis we actually face.”

The roadmap, which draws on information gathered in more than 100 hearings by Castor’s panel and other House committees, calls for all cars sold in the U.S. to be electric by 2035 and electricity to be net-zero emissions by 2040. The plan calls for massive jobs programs, including a Civilian Conservation Corps, investments in infrastructure and the clean-up of abandoned mines, as well as tax credits to spur more manufacturing of clean energy components domestically.

Attention to the disproportionate effects of climate change and environmental hazards on  minority communities is an underlying theme of the report.

The plan would aim a surge of environmental enforcement actions at overburdened communities of color. It would also include enactment of a clean and efficient energy overhaul of the nation’s public housing, a $180 billion, 10-year program introduced in Congress late last year by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the avatar of the Green New Deal.

The report calls for a price on carbon, but asserts that carbon pricings would be insufficient on its own. “Carbon pricing is not a silver bullet,” the report said. The report said that low- and moderate-income communities would need to benefit from any carbon pricing policy, and that a carbon market should be paired with policy to “achieve measurable air pollution reductions from facilities located in environmental justice (EJ) communities.”

House Democrats also made clear their opposition to political trade-offs that would weaken the hand of those coping with the fallout of global warming damages. For example, the report said Congress should not give liability protection to fossil fuel companies in return for their support of a climate bill. That issue is especially salient nationally, with more than 20 lawsuits underway by state and local governments and others over climate damages, including actions filed in the past week by Minnesota and the District of Columbia.

Some critics took aim at the Democrats for putting out a report that no Republican members of the committee had signed onto. Rich Powell, executive director of ClearPath Action, a group that is supportive of nuclear energy, carbon capture investments, and other climate action ideas that could win Republican support, said the House majority missed an opportunity for bipartisanship. Powell said the report was “effectively a rewrite of the Green New Deal, leading us further away from real, practical solutions.”

New York Times:

The package also approaches climate change as a matter of racial injustice. The report cites the police killing of George Floyd in its opening paragraph and goes on to argue that communities of color are also more at risk from the effects of climate change. The report says the government should prioritize minority communities for new spending on energy and infrastructure.

“We have to focus on environmental-justice communities,” said Representative Kathy Castor, Democrat of Florida and chairwoman of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, which compiled the report. “There is an awakening across the country to systemic racism, and this is a report that at its center, at its core, focuses on those communities.”

Few of the proposals are likely to go anywhere this year because they would require support from the Republican-led Senate as well as President Trump, who has called climate change a hoax. But as a political statement the package is notable because it presents what Democrats call a comprehensive legislative agenda for climate change at a time when public support is on the rise.

In 2016, only 38 percent of adults in the United States said dealing with global climate change should be “a top priority for the president and Congress,” according to the Pew Research Center. By this year, that number had jumped to 52 percent.

Still, a major challenge remains: how to address the demands of climate activists without alienating more centrist voters.

Last year, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York introduced the Green New Deal, which called for getting 100 percent of the country’s power from renewable and zero-emissions within 10 years. Republicans have pilloried her proposals, using (and at times mischaracterizing) them to try to paint Democrats as willing to sacrifice the economy in the pursuit of environmental goals. The Democratic leadership has sought to distance itself from the package.

7 Responses to “Dems Release Climate Plan, But is it Enough?”

  1. The InsideClimate News article mentions ‘120 pieces of legislation’. It would be great to know what pieces of legislation. Is this a list of 120 current bills or something else?

  2. It is better then nothing. With small steps at the time you can get very far.

    • J4Zonian Says:

      No, you can’t. Not when there’s a very short deadline. IT is exactly the same as nothing, since it will lead to exactly the same result as nothing—the end of civilization and the extinction of millions of species.

      I’m frustrated beyond words that seemingly intelligent people have relentlessly refused to understand this for 40 fucking years.

  3. J4Zonian Says:

    “those who think the Democrats should have sought more common ground with the GOP”

    My first impulse was to just leave this quote and say nothing, but in a country in which a national leader of some kind (?) can suggest the “opposition” party seek common ground with with Hitler, Himmler, Heydrich, Goebbels, Göring, Bormann, Eichmann, and Mengele, and the ones who with Stephen Miller decided it would be a good idea to put children in cages, I don’t think that would make the point.

    I see the Supremes have decided we should start killing people judicially again, in addition to all those we’re now killing extra-judicially—the hundreds of thousands dying as part of a conscious genocide-by-disease program, and the billions now doomed by the US climate policy.

    I’m reminded that the only death sentence ever delivered by an Israeli court was to Adolf Eichmann for sending Jews to death camps. He was hanged in 1962 after a 4 month trial. I always have been and always will be against the death penalty in all cases and hope this is reversed, negated, or ignored. If the courts don’t see their responsibility to execute the worst criminal psychopaths in all human history, who will ultimately cause the deaths of billions and the extinctions of millions of species, how can they possibly justify executing anyone else?

    Trump Doesn’t Believe in Democracy—Here’s His 25-Step Reelection Plan

    There are any number of things that need to be added but item #1 has to be the attempt to take over the US permanently and begin the genocide their rule makes inevitable. They’re trying to do both by closing off all other choices and denying care to everyone except the oligarchy for the purpose of killing off as many poor people of color as possible with a deadly virus.

  4. Sir Charles Says:

    CAT would rate existing US target under the Paris Agreement “Insufficient”, as it is not stringent enough to limit warming to 2°C, let alone 1.5˚C. However, given the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the rate is “Critically insufficient”.


  5. Rejoy Dey Says:

    Climate change is every bit real. They, who say it’s fake, import crack from Moon

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