|March 26, 2019|
Senate rejection of Green New Deal won't slow Americans' desire for climate action
|The Republican-led Senate is poised to vote down, as early as Tuesday, a resolution laying out the broad ambitions of a Green New Deal, before the Congress, or the country, can even discuss its potential to help fight climate change. There's more at stake, here, than a resolution. Republican leaders won't admit we face a crisis they're ignoring at our peril.|
GOP leaders like President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are determined to block the clean energy transition we need to protect our families, communities and country from the rising costs and mounting dangers of global climate change. Their plan: protect the producers of the fossil fuels that are driving climate chaos - and leave our kids to pay the price.
They won't succeed.
Seven in ten Americans expect our government to act to prevent climate catastrophe. Our children aren't just asking for a livable world - they're rightly demanding it. And forward looking investors know that trillions of dollars and millions of jobs await those who embrace the growing global market for the clean energy solutions this fight requires.
Flouting the will of the people, mocking the voices calling for change and anchoring our future to the dirty fuels of the past is a formula for failure. It's time for leaders, from both parties, to come together and chart a better course.
One of the core strengths of our democracy is its ability to gather the best of American innovation and ideas, the collective genius of the nation, and use it to solve the problems and grasp the opportunities of our times.
That's how we put in place Social Security and Medicare to protect our senior citizens. It's how we've turned back tyranny, advanced science and medicine and built an economy other nations envy. It's how we've forged global alliances that enhance our strength, leverage our power and widen our national prosperity.
Today, that history of achievement calls us to action once again, this time to fight the pollution that's causing climate disruption.
Having just endured the five hottest years since global record keeping began, having watched as seas rise, croplands turn to desert, species disappear and wildfires, storms and floods rage with growing fury year upon devastating year, we can no longer turn away from our duty to act.
That's what's behind the growing movement to create a Green New Deal. We need a package of assertive measures aimed at speeding a just transition to 100 percent clean energy, building thriving communities and preserving sustainable ecosystems, as quickly as possible, starting now.
Trump and McConnell have lampooned the idea of a Green New Deal. What, though, do they suggest instead? The answer is nothing.
Senators wishing to register concern over climate change separate from a Green New Deal have a way to do it. A Senate resolution introduced last month states simply that "climate change is real," caused mostly by "human activity" and the Congress, and the country, should take "immediate action" to fight it.
All 47 Senate Democrats have signed on to the resolution. One Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, is on board. McConnell has refused to bring the resolution to a vote.
If he, or anyone else, has ideas for fighting climate change, we'd all love to hear it. That's what our democracy is all about.
What we can't do is to simply shrink from the challenge and leave our kids and grandkids to inherit climate catastrophe.
Those who say we can't afford to act are wrong. Ignoring climate change is already imposing large and unsustainable costs on our country. Fighting it can create millions of jobs.
Right now, more than 3.3 million Americans - nearly three times as many as those who produce fossil fuels - get up and go to work each day helping us shift to the clean energy economy we need. They're working to improve energy efficiency, so we do more with less waste; to build world-beating all-electric and hybrid cars; and to get more clean power from the wind and sun. We can create millions more good-paying American jobs with policies that help support and accelerate this work.
As we do so, we can work toward environmental justice, by protecting low-income communities, people of color and others living with frontline environmental hazard and harm.
We can invest in community resiliency, to help people living in our rural areas, cities and along our coasts cope with the consequences of extreme weather and other climate-related threats.
We can protect clean air and water from toxic pollution, safeguard our public waters and lands from industrial ruin and defend species and habitat from global collapse.
And we can strengthen our forests, wetlands and farms so they can help us fight climate change by capturing carbon pollution and storing it in healthy trees and soils.
The work of crafting the legislation we need to turn a Green New Deal into the law of the land is just beginning in the appropriate House committees. It should be getting started in the Senate as well, but that's the last thing McConnell wants to happen. His plan is to shut down debate and stop the process, to protect the coal, oil and gas industries.
It's long past time for us to speak directly to our leaders and remind them what government by the people is all about. It's about serving the American people, not the polluting industries that put us all at risk. It's about solving big problems, not running away from our responsibilities. And it's about pooling the best of American ideas, innovation and enterprise so we can seize the great opportunities of our time.
Rhea Suh is president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group with more than 3 million supporters nationwide.