Over the years, there has been a multitude of legislation attempting to address climate change and introduce solutions to fight it. But, somehow, most of this legislation either dies in Congress or ends up not actually having an effect. In turn, the United States as a whole isn’t doing anything to address an issue that the global scientific community agrees is a major problem. While they may not be in agreement with some specific details, the general consensus among climate scientists is that climate change is a legitimate problem caused at least in part by human activity. For the scientific community to completely agree on anything is remarkable but also highlights how much of an imminent issue climate change actually is.
Last month, Rep. Nancy Pelosi announced the revival of the select committee on climate change. While this committee would not have subpoena power or be able to approve legislation, unlike the 2007 committee, it is still a step forward towards Congress addressing of climate change. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has called for this committee to draft a “Green New Deal”, which takes part of its name from the New Deal policies of President Roosevelt in the 1930's. This deal aspires to cut carbon emissions at a rate which would reach the Paris Agreement’s goal of preventing global temperatures from increasing no more than 2°C (35.6°F) by 2100.
In order for this ambitious goal to happen, the United States would have to start reducing emissions almost immediately. While Congressional Democrats have usually been united in the idea that climate change poses a real threat, they tend to disagree on the more specific parts, such as feasible solutions and ideas for reducing emissions. This often causes their attempts at writing legislation to fall apart and simply waste time. Couple that with the strong Republican opposition to climate change, such as the current administration's extreme rollback on various environmental policies, and absolutely nothing positive has been accomplished in these past few years with regards to addressing it.
For the past two years, Congressional Democrats have more or less been able to unite around blocking the sweeping environmental deregulations. Yet, not having a majority in the House or Senate has limited their ability to pass anything new, even if they managed to agree on the specifics. New House Democrats are hoping that the Green New Deal will be different and that they’ll be able to pass it. One way that they’re trying to get bipartisan support is by addressing climate change in an infrastructure reform package.
With the new House Democrats appearing to be very focused on addressing climate change, there is hope that the Green New Deal will pass. However, apart from drumming up bipartisan support in order to make passing it more likely, it requires that Congressional Democrats put aside their differences and stand up for climate change without falling apart at the slightest bit of resistance.