Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

House Passes First Major Climate Bill in 10 Years

Politics
House Passes First Major Climate Bill in 10 Years
A protest against Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement, announced in 2017. Salwan Georges / The Washington Post via Getty Images

The U.S. House of Representatives approved its first major climate change legislation in a decade on Thursday, Reuters reported. The Climate Action Now Act would require President Donald Trump to keep the U.S. in the Paris agreement, mandating that he outlines steps to reduce greenhouse emissions and prohibiting him from using federal funds to withdraw from the agreement.


The bill passed 231 to 190, with three Republicans crossing the aisle to approve it with the Democrats. It is unlikely to pass the Senate, but the Democrats see it as a way to stake out a climate position ahead of the 2020 election and to signal to the international community that a future Democratic president would stay in the agreement, The Washington Post reported.

"Passing this bill is an important signal to our allies, and my expectation is that when we act, we'll see increased ambition from them, too," Democratic Florida Representative Kathy Castor, who sponsored the legislation and chairs the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, told the press before the vote, as The Washington Post reported.

While Trump promised to withdraw from the Paris accord in June 2017, he cannot legally do so until November 2020.

"That's an interesting date, isn't it?" Castor said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the bill would "go nowhere" in the Senate and called it a "futile gesture to handcuff the U.S. economy," The New York Times reported.

In debating the measure, House Republicans focused on the Paris agreement's impact on the U.S. economy and either avoided discussions of the science of climate change itself or acknowledged it as an issue worth confronting. Instead of denying science, they argued that other countries in the agreement, particularly China and India, had not pledged enough.

The Obama administration had promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 28 percent of 2005 levels by 2025; China promised to slow its emissions growth and reach peak carbon in 2030, and India said it would reduce the carbon dioxide emitted per unit of gross domestic product while still allowing overall emissions to rise.

In the debate ahead of the vote, Texas Republican Representative Jodey Arrington called the deal "a gift to our enemies" and Louisiana Republican Steve Scalise said it would send jobs to China and India. However, not all Republicans portrayed climate action as a threat to the U.S. economy.

"Environmental protection and economic growth are not mutually exclusive," Florida Republican Representative Vern Buchanan, one of three Republicans who voted for the act, said, as The Washington Post reported.

Some green groups applauded Thursday's vote. Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune called the bill "an important opportunity for every member of Congress to affirm on the record that the U.S. must be a leader in addressing the climate crisis."

Others argued that it did not go far enough.

"The latest science is clear: In order to adequately address deepening climate chaos, we must transition completely to clean, renewable energy generation in little more than a decade," Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter said ahead of the vote. "The terms of the Paris accord aren't low-hanging fruit, they're fruit that has fallen to the ground and begun to rot."

Scientists have said that if all the world's countries met their pledges under the Paris agreement, it would not be enough to prevent a dangerous rise in temperature, The New York Times reported.

Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has championed a more ambitious Green New Deal that would transition the U.S. to net zero emissions within 10 years, said Thursday's act needed to be the precursor to more legislation.

"The idea that we can just reintroduce 2009 policies is not reflective of action that is necessary for now in the world of today," she said.

2009 was the last year that the House passed major climate change legislation, according to The New York Times. That bill would have put a cap on U.S. emissions and let businesses and utilities trade permits to emit, but it failed to advance in the Senate.

China's new five-year plan could allow further expansion of its coal industry. chuyu / iStock / Getty Images Plus

On Friday, China set out an economic blueprint for the next five years, which was expected to substantiate the goal set out last fall by President Xi Jinping for the country to reach net-zero emissions before 2060 and hit peak emissions by 2030.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day on Capital Pathway in Ottawa, Ontario with Camille Bérubé. Daniel Baylis

The Great Trail in Canada is recognized as the world's longest recreational trail for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Created by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and various partners, The Great Trail consists of a series of smaller, interconnected routes that stretch from St. John's to Vancouver and even into the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It took nearly 25 years to connect the 27,000 kilometers of greenway in ways that were safe and accessible to hikers. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and AccessNow, the TCT is increasing accessibility throughout The Great Trail for people with disabilities.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A lone house is seen inside the exclusion zone near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on February 26, 2016 in Namie, Fukushima, Japan. Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

By Kiyoshi Kurokawa and Najmedin Meshkati

Ten years ago, on March 11, 2011, the biggest recorded earthquake in Japanese history hit the country's northeast coast. It was followed by a tsunami that traveled up to 6 miles inland, reaching heights of over 140 feet in some areas and sweeping entire towns away in seconds.

Read More Show Less
Rescript the Future is WaterBear's global script writing competition focused on building a better future. WaterBear

"Watch. Connect. Take Action."

These words are the invitation and mandate of the WaterBear Network, a free film-streaming platform that launched in November of 2020. Its goal is to turn inspirational images of the natural world into actions to save it.

Read More Show Less
The Sunrise Movement launched its "Good Jobs for All" campaign that guarantees a good job to anyone who wants one and puts the country on a path toward a Green New Deal. Image Source / Getty Images

By Kenny Stancil

Amid the ongoing climate emergency and the devastating coronavirus pandemic that has resulted in more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S. alone as well as an economic meltdown that has left millions of people unemployed, the Sunrise Movement on Thursday launched its "Good Jobs for All" campaign to demand that lawmakers pursue a robust recovery that guarantees a good job to anyone who wants one and puts the country on a path toward a Green New Deal.

Read More Show Less