House Democrats announce climate plan to rival Green New Deal with 2050 goal

House Democrats announce climate plan to rival Green New Deal with 2050 goal
© Greg Nash

House Democrats announced plans Tuesday to craft a new climate proposal to rival the Green New Deal by achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“All of this demands leadership at the federal level,” said Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneOvernight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments Obstacles remain for deal on surprise medical bills This week: House impeachment inquiry hits crucial stretch MORE (D-N.J.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, at a press conference. “This is an ambitious goal, I don’t want to suggest that it isn’t, and there are a lot of different ways of dealing with it.”

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Democrats say they will develop a plan by the end of the year to reach that goal and will hold a number of hearings and meetings with business leaders and environmentalists.

The competing plan highlights the rift with the party’s more progressive wing, which has rallied around the Green New Deal and its goal of a carbon-free economy by 2030.

Pallone and other Democratic members of the Energy and Commerce Committee said their plan would be more concrete than the Green New Deal.

“We can do any kind of whimsical thing but we have to do this in a way that includes conversations with stakeholders, their buy-in and their involvement in a consensus bill,” said Rep. Paul TonkoPaul David TonkoOvernight Energy: Republicans eye top spot on Natural Resources panel | GOP lawmakers push back on bill to make greener refrigerators, air conditioners | Green groups sue Trump over California fracking plans Republicans push back on bipartisan bill to make greener refrigerators, air conditioners House passes sweeping bill to target spread of toxic 'forever chemicals' MORE (D-N.Y.), who helped the committee settle on the 2050 timeline and will lead many of the hearings that will inform an eventual bill.

The lawmakers characterized 2050 as a point of no return, after which the country will be unable to avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change. Progressives contend the country needs to reduce emissions by 2030 in order to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezSanders wants one-on-one fight with Biden Impeachment trial forces senators to scrap fundraisers Ocasio-Cortez knocks Biden: He 'helped sell the invasion of Iraq' and 'spent years working to cut Social Security' MORE (D-N.Y.), who sponsored the Green New Deal, has criticized plans from other Democrats that did not strive to meet the earlier timeline.

“Personally, I think we need to have more aggressive timelines than that to be honest,” she told The Hill in April of presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke’s climate plan, which strives for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“I think that the science and the IPCC [report] shows exactly what we need, and our legislation needs to be in line with that,” she added, referring to the climate assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Pallone acknowledged the challenge of getting the party’s more progressive wing on board but said getting the majority of Democrats on board would be key.

“We want a united front. I think it’s fair for me to say right now that does not exist,” he told reporters.

Energy and Commerce members were tight-lipped about what might be included in the proposal, saying it will be crafted through months of conversations.

Tonko said Democrats need to craft a ready-to-go bill, should a Democrat defeat President TrumpDonald John TrumpMnuchin knocks Greta Thunberg's activism: Study economics and then 'come back' to us The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial MORE next year, and stressed the importance of going through a process to develop legislation.

“The importance here of that is to make certain that all concerns are taken to mind and heart and that we come up with the best consensus,” he said. “Without that you don’t have the support to get it through the House, perhaps, and certainly not through the Senate.”

Some environmental groups were critical of the announcement.

“Pallone and Democratic leaders are right that this is a crisis. But by setting a goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050 here in the United States, they’re not acting like it,” the Sunrise Movement, a youth climate group and one of the backers of the Green New Deal, said in a statement. “To set a low goal that is misaligned with what science demands out of the gate is irresponsible, and bargaining against our future.”

Updated at 4:45 p.m.