Meet the lawmakers putting politics aside to save our climate

Six members of Congress just sponsored a bill that will create jobs, improve people’s health, and already has support from both sides of the aisle. Ready for the clincher? It’s a climate change bill.

The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, introduced on Nov. 27 by a bipartisan group of House members, will put a price on carbon pollution and return the revenue to Americans. This fee-and-dividend style policy will spur America’s transition to a clean energy economy, while saving tens of thousands of American lives thanks to better air quality, generating 2.1 million new jobs in the first 10 years, and cutting carbon pollution by at least 40 percent in 12 years. Plus, Republicans and Democrats are both on board, cosponsoring this bill together.

ADVERTISEMENT

These members’ motivation to act on climate change comes from their very own constituents. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have made calls, written letters, and even traveled to Washington, D.C., to lobby their members of Congress for climate action. They asked for this exact type of policy: Legislation to drive down carbon emissions while putting money in Americans’ pockets. Now, it’s obvious that members of Congress heard their constituents loud and clear.

Not only are these lawmakers listening to their constituents, but they are also listening to each other. Lead sponsors Rep. Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchHouse ethics panel renews probes into three GOP lawmakers Overnight Energy: Bipartisan climate caucus eyes litmus test for new members| Green groups want freeze on Keystone construction| Bernhardt sworn in as Secretary of Interior Overnight Energy: Bipartisan climate caucus eyes litmus test for new members | Greens want freeze on Keystone construction | Bernhardt sworn in as Interior chief MORE (D-Fla.), Rep. Charlie CristCharles (Charlie) Joseph CristWhite House: Pelosi calling Barr a liar 'beneath her office' Timeline: Barr, Mueller and the Trump probe Justice Department slams Pelosi for 'baseless attack' against Barr MORE (D-Fla.) and Rep. Francis RooneyLaurence (Francis) Francis RooneyOvernight Energy: Bipartisan climate caucus eyes litmus test for new members| Green groups want freeze on Keystone construction| Bernhardt sworn in as Secretary of Interior Overnight Energy: Bipartisan climate caucus eyes litmus test for new members | Greens want freeze on Keystone construction | Bernhardt sworn in as Interior chief Bipartisan climate caucus eyes litmus test for new members MORE (R-Fla.) come from different parties, but the same coastal state facing an existential threat from climate change. Rep. Rooney has said, “In Florida, no matter how conservative we may be about border security, foreign policy, taxes or who knows what, we are all environmentalists.”

Cosponsors Rep. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickHere are the eight Republicans who voted with Democrats on the Equality Act House approves anti-LGBT discrimination Equality Act This week: House to vote on bill to ban LGBTQ discrimination MORE (R-Pa.), Rep. John DelaneyJohn Kevin DelaneyMoulton rolls out plan to promote national service among young Americans From dive bars to steakhouses: How Iowa caucus staffers blow off steam Winter is here: How 'Game of Thrones' took over American politics MORE (D-Md.) and Dave TrottDavid Alan TrottMeet the lawmakers putting politics aside to save our climate Michigan New Members 2019 Democrats flip Michigan seat in race between two political newcomers MORE (R-Mich.) also understand the value of working together — they and their cosponsors on this bill are all members of the Climate Solutions Caucus, an evenly bipartisan group in the House, focused on building common ground to address climate change. They understand that climate change is too urgent to get caught up in partisan politics, and the opportunities offered by this solution are too great to pass up.

Indeed, the problem of climate change is urgent. The latest National Climate Assessment (NCA), released on Nov. 23, lays out the impacts climate change is already having on the United States: Historic droughts, floods and wildfires threaten infrastructure, tourism and livelihoods; pollution and insect-borne diseases threaten public health; even our agricultural production is expected to decline due to unfavorable conditions.

The report said in no uncertain terms, “Greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are the only factors that can account for the observed warming over the last century.” The report also made clear, “The severity of future impacts will depend largely on actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” In other words: Humans have caused it. Humans can fix it.

ADVERTISEMENT

This month’s NCA echoes another report published this fall from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which specifically identified carbon pricing as a central component of combating climate change. Economists, scientists and climate advocates alike are on the same page that carbon pricing is the way forward for effective, efficient emissions reductions. With the introduction of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, it’s clear this group of Republicans and Democrats are on that same page.

I’m incredibly grateful to these members of Congress for working together and being responsive to their constituents’ concerns about climate change. I’m also grateful for the tens of thousands of regular people across the country who have written, called, and lobbied to bring this fee-and-dividend style policy to the table. The sponsors of this bill plan to reintroduce it in the 116th Congress, and as more Americans see that legislators are listening and ready to move forward on climate change, the groundswell will only grow — more calls, more letters, more meetings encouraging members of Congress to pass this solution into law. That civic engagement is already making our democracy healthier. With this policy, people and the planet will be healthier too.

Mark Reynolds is executive director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby.