Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

New House Speaker Pelosi Calls Climate Change ‘Existential Threat’ in Opening Remarks

Climate
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) speaks to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a ceremonial mock swearing in ceremony on Capitol Hill on January 3, 2019 in Washington, DC. Zach Gibson / Getty Images News / Getty Images

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi received a standing ovation after calling for action on climate change during her first address to the 116th session of Congress Thursday, according to a video shared by Newsweek.

"We must also face the existential threat of our time: the climate crisis, a crisis manifested in natural disasters of epic proportions. The American people understand the urgency. The people are ahead of the Congress. The Congress must join them," she said.


Pelosi Sends Strong Message About Climate Change While Elected House Speaker www.youtube.com

However, for some climate activists, the people are still ahead of the Congress, despite Pelosi's words. During her speech, she touted a new "Select Committee on the Climate Crisis," but the young progressives who want a Green New Deal to transition the U.S. economy towards renewable energy while providing jobs and improving equality say the new committee does not go far enough.

The Sunrise Movement, which propelled the Green New Deal into the news with a sit-in in Pelosi's office in November, said the committee fails on three major points.

  1. It allows members to accept donations from fossil fuel companies.
  2. It was not empowered to create a plan to transition the U.S. away from fossil fuels within the 12-year timeframe that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says is necessary to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
  3. It does not mention combining that transition with a push for greater economic and racial justice.

The activists also criticized the new committee for lacking subpoena power, a power that previous select climate committees did have.

"Democratic leaders had an opportunity to embrace young people's energy and back the #GreenNewDeal, but they failed us yet again," Sunrise Movement co-founder Varshini Prakash said in a statement. "This committee is toothless and weaker than the first Climate Select Committee from a decade ago, and it does not get us meaningfully closer to solving the climate crisis or fixing our broken economy."

However, experienced members of Congress said that the policy goals united under the Green New Deal banner could still be realized, but standing committees like Energy and Commerce are the most likely vehicle to push them forward.

"Progressives like me who understand how the system works have every confidence that we'll be able to do it within the existing system," Democratic Virginia Representative Donald McEachin told POLITICO in an in-depth article on the Democrats' climate plans. "Energy and Commerce is my primary pick because that's the committee that's really going to dig in and do what these young progressives are looking for."

The select committee will be led by Kathy Castor, a Florida Democrat who has not backed the call for a Green New Deal. It will have until March of 2020 to submit policy recommendations to other committees and will have nine Democratic members and six Republican members. Its members have not yet been selected.

"We need all voices. But make no mistake about it, we simply don't have time to tread water," Castor told POLITICO. Castor has a lifetime score of 93 percent from the League of Conservation Voters, but some progressives are concerned by a Sludge report that she and her husband have between $50,001 and $100,000 invested in utility companies that mostly generate energy from fossil fuels.

Meanwhile, New Jersey Democrat and Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone said his committee would work with the Natural Resources and Science committees, as well as the new climate committee, on climate action. The first hearing he plans to convene will focus on the economic and environmental impacts of climate change.

"We're all progressives," Pallone said of Natural Resources Chairman Arizona Democrat Raúl Grijalva and Science Chairman Texas Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson. "I think they'll be happy to see what we do because the chairs of the committees are progressive," he told POLITICO.

On the more conservative side of the party, Representatives are concerned about how to balance economic growth and environmental concerns.

"We've got to find a way that we can accommodate our goals and not be seen as anti-business," Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar told POLITICO. "A lot of the oil-and-gas state folks feel the same way."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Food Tank

By Danielle Nierenberg and Alonso Diaz

With record high unemployment, a reeling global economy, and concerns of food shortages, the world as we know it is changing. But even as these shifts expose inequities in the health and food systems, many experts hope that the current moment offers an opportunity to build a new and more sustainable food system.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Brian J. Love and Julie Rieland

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the U.S. recycling industry. Waste sources, quantities and destinations are all in flux, and shutdowns have devastated an industry that was already struggling.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

Unhealthy foods play a primary role in many people gaining weight and developing chronic health conditions, more now than ever before.

Read More Show Less
A man pushes his mother in a wheelchair down Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami on May 19, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.

Read More Show Less
To better understand how people influence the overall health of dolphins, Oklahoma State University's Unmanned Systems Research Institute is developing a drone to collect samples from the spray that comes from their blowholes. Ken Y. / CC by 2.0

By Jason Bruck

Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.

Read More Show Less

Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral. gonzalo martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus

On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks. jacqueline / CC by 2.0

By Kelli McGrane

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks.

Read More Show Less