A new select committee report is perfectly in tune with the growing climate policy alignment on the left around standards, investments, and justice.
The committee was formed as a consequence of the changing party control of the US House of Representatives in 2108.
In 2018, just before Democrats re-took the House, Pelosi proposed reconstituting the committee. In the wake of the election, climate change activists, led by newly elected Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, demanded that the new committee have teeth — that it be charged with developing a Green New Deal. The original sit-in at Pelosi’s office, where AOC drew scads of media attention by appearing after having been elected but before being sworn in, was in part about demanding a more robust committee. Activists eventually got dozens of lawmakers to sign on to the effort.
After the initial hullabaloo, the select committee largely fell out of the headlines and got to work.
“We didn’t need subpoena power to do our work,” says Melvin Félix, the committee’s communications director. “People were eager to share their views on how to solve the climate crisis.”
All those consultations, hearings, and meetings have culminated in the release of the select committee’s official report and recommendations: “Solving the Climate Crisis: The Congressional action plan for a clean energy economy and a healthy and just America.”
It is the most detailed and well-thought-out plan for addressing climate change that has ever been a part of US politics — an extraordinary synthesis of expertise from social and scientific fields, written by people deeply familiar with government, the levers of power, and existing policy.
The goal of the recommendations is even stricter than the reductions called for by the IPCC.
The policies would result in net GHG’s reduced from 2010 emissions levels by 37% by 2030 and 88 percent by 2050.
Of course it claims to save money.
“The cumulative net present value of the estimated monetized annual health and climate benefits,” the report says, “are equal to almost $8 trillion (real 2018 U.S. dollars) at a 3% discount rate.”
That’s $8 trillion in savings — up to $1 trillion a year by 2050, relative to the no-policy baseline. Pretty soon you’re talking about real money.
It’s got pillars, twelve of them
- Invest in infrastructure to build a just, equitable, and resilient clean energy economy.
- Drive innovation and deployment of clean energy and deep decarbonization technologies.
- Transform US industry and expand domestic manufacturing of clean energy and zero-emission technologies.
- Break down barriers for clean energy technologies.
- Invest in America’s workers and build a fairer economy.
- Invest in disproportionately exposed communities to cut pollution and advance environmental justice.
- Improve public health and manage climate risks to health infrastructure.
- Invest in American agriculture for climate solutions.
- Make US communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
- Protect and restore America’s lands, waters, ocean, and wildlife.
- Confront climate risks to America’s national security and restore America’s leadership on the international stage.
- Strengthen America’s core institutions to facilitate climate action.
After detailing the plan, the article ties it into the political and electoral landscape…
For each policy, the report identifies the congressional committee with jurisdiction. What’s notable is that just about every committee in the House, from Agriculture to Natural Resources to Transportation to Financial Services to Defense, has a full menu of things to do. There is lots of work to go around.
“This is an ambitious and comprehensive plan,” says Stokes. “It shows that the committee listened to stakeholders, watched the Democratic primary carefully, and learned from climate champions like Governor Jay Inslee.”
and ends on this not unexpected note.
And so, as the select committee report illustrates in the starkest possible terms, if you want serious policy to address urgent national problems, there’s only one party offering it.