House Democrats Unveil Bold Climate Plan Linked to Racial Justice
Solving the Climate Crisis: The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient, and Just America is the first major piece of legislation from the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, established last year as the Green New Deal was garnering attention, and would put the country on a path to meeting the goals of the Paris agreement, as The Hill reported.
"While local communities and states and businesses take climate action, what's been missing is the federal government," said Rep. Kathy Castor, (D-FL), who chairs the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times.
Prior to creating its bold plan to set the course for a zero emissions future, the committee heard testimony from researchers, local officials and a bevy of environmental activists like Greta Thunberg, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
"Turning this plan into reality will build a safer, healthier, and fairer America, restore our global climate leadership, enhance our national security, and provide a livable climate for today's youth and future generations," the report says.
The ambitious plan, which faces an dubious future in a Republican-controlled Senate, requires companies to pay for emitting excessive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. While that cost will pass down to the consumer, it may have the net effect of reducing consumption. It also has provisions that give money back to low- and moderate-income households, according to The New York Times.
Since racial minority communities are disproportionately affected by pollution and extreme weather from the climate crisis, the report ties environmental justice to racial justice, citing the police killing of George Floyd in its opening paragraph. As The New York Times reported, the report argues that the government should prioritize racial minority communities for new spending on energy and infrastructure.
"We have to focus on environmental-justice communities," said Castor, according to The New York Times. "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."
Representative Castor and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are announcing the plan at an event in front of the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday morning. The Democrats underpin their report with pitches on the economy, including the chance for new jobs in renewable energy and $8 trillion in climate and health benefits through the middle of the century, according to The Guardian.
Leah Stokes, an assistant professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who studies climate policy, told The Guardian that the plan was "ambitious and comprehensive."
"It shows that the committee has been listening to stakeholders, and has watched the Democratic primary carefully. Clearly they have learned from climate champions like [Washington] Governor Jay Inslee," she said.
"I am very heartened to see the detail and ambition that the committee has put forward – it shows that the Democratic party is waking up to the scale and urgency of the climate crisis."
The plan calls for not only taking action to stop greenhouse gas emissions to slow down the climate crisis, but also to build infrastructure to deal with its effects. It champions investments to respond to climate impacts, including water infrastructure to handle increased flooding and a next-generation 911 system to make sure wireless communications networks are reliable during disasters, according to The Guardian.
It also acknowledges that fortifying communities with improved infrastructure will not be enough as hurricanes and other storms increase in frequency and intensity. People will need to relocate. "Communities need support developing longer-term strategies, including options to relocate and resettle willing neighborhoods or communities," the report reads, according to The New York Times. Federally funded programs should "consider the trade-offs of relocation and protection."
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By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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