POLICY: Federal Climate and Trade Policy

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Federal Climate PolicyClimate justice activists unfurl a Green New Deal banner

Although the climate-denying Donald Trump has lost his job, we will still need to push hard to get strong climate policy through the House and Senate. While there is no one piece of Green New Deal legislation, there are a significant number of bills and proposals in Congress designed to address climate change. Some are stronger than others; we will push for those that we think are the strongest. Although we can’t cover all of them here, below we discuss some key bills and policy proposals.

The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis has issued a report calling for a wide range of policies that it believes would be necessary to address the full scope of the crisis. Groups such as the Sunrise Movement have stated that while the report reflects a good start, it needs to go further to meet the full demands of the crisis. We agree. For example, the report lacks a fracking ban. Still, there is lots in the report to push for. To summarize, the report calls for eliminating emissions from the electricity grid by 2040 and achieving net-zero emissions across the board by 2050. In addition, it proposes investments in jobs and workers, and proposes that all new vehicles sold in the US be electric by 2035. Significantly, the report recognizes that those most affected by the climate crisis are communities of color, and calls for specific policies to address that inequity.

The Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis has also issued a climate report, strongly criticized by Food and Water Watch and other groups.  The report calls for net zero carbon emissions by 2050 but is vaguer than the House report regarding specifics. Instead it simply says that Congress should enact “a federal clean energy standard, emission standards, a carbon price, and/or other market mechanisms to ensure the rapid adoption and scale-up of proven technologies today.” Unless the Senate proposes more specific and stronger policies, we will most likely focus more on proposals coming out of the House.

The THRIVE agenda (Transform, Heal, and Renew by Investing in a Vibrant Economy) is a resolution that was introduced in Congress on September 10, 2020 and is very much in line with the Green New Deal. Most likely it will become an actual bill in 2021. It seeks to address the interlocking crises of climate, health, inequality and racial injustice and is the result of months of collaboration among dozens of grassroots groups advocating for climate, economic, and racial justice. It proposes a just economic recovery plan that upholds eight pillars that center around — among other goals —  job creation, inequality, investing in frontline and indigenous communities, environmental justice, and climate action. 350 Seattle has urged our Washington Congressional delegation to sign on to the resolution.

ClimateCrisisPolicy.org is promoting a list of 10 bills that it believes could significantly make a difference as we fight the climate crisis. You can find the bills here. The Package tackles a range of greenhouse gas solutions, and includes bills addressing agriculture, plastics, fossil fuel management, environmental justice, and a just transition.  Collectively, over 1200 organizations support these bills. 350 Seattle has been pushing these bills with our local Congressional delegation.

Stay tuned as we move further into 2021 and ramp up our lobbying efforts.

Federal Trade Policy

Trade has everything to do with climate justice! International trade deals, hammered out primarily with corporate interests in mind, have a plethora of provisions that interfere with our ability to address the climate crisis. For example, NAFTA, now known as the USMCA, allows the outsourcing of pollution and jobs, offers special handouts to notorious corporate polluters, and — due to an egregious regulatory chapter — will prolong Trump’s polluting legacy for years to come. A recent proposed trade deal with Kenya, and an anticipated challenge to Canadian plastic regulation, indicates that the fossil fuel is using trade agreements to save the plastics industry. Learn more on the Trade Policy page.