Pelosi defends America’s ‘moral authority’ on climate action
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday defended the U.S. “moral authority” on climate change at the COP26 climate summit after being asked about the country’s failure to commit to phasing out coal.
Pelosi, who led a delegation of House Democrats to the summit, was asked whether the U.S. retains its “moral authority” after it did not join the coal phase-out agreement, which includes 18 other countries. The U.S. also did not join a 30-country pledge to transition to entirely emissions-free vehicles announced Wednesday at the summit.
“I don’t accept the fact that America has not assumed its moral authority in all of this,” Pelosi responded. “American is back, our president was here, there were many successes that were achieved in collaboration — not dictation or condescension — with other countries, many of whom of course were ahead of us because we had the dark period of four years preceding President Biden’s coming into office.”
“We have great confidence, we have absolute hope and optimism that the goals will be met,” she added. “People will say what people will say, but we know that America is back, we’ve been yearning to be back.”
Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) conceded “political constraints” in the U.S. that may lead to less aggressive climate action.
“I hope what you’re hearing here from the delegation is not just a willingness to step up and ask the rest of the world to do better, but we have to do that in the United States as well and you’re right, we have disconnects,” Huffman said.
He conceded that despite the ambitious climate provisions of the infrastructure package, it seeks to address methane emissions by “throwing money at the fossil fuel industry to incentivize what frankly we would like to do using other tools such as penalties and regulations.”
“You can point to contradictions and inconsistencies and inadequacies … but I hope what you’re hearing is a resolve to step up and do everything we possibly can, and we will get there,” he added.
Another member of the delegation, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), on Tuesday praised what she described as the way activists have shifted the conversation on climate policy.
“It’s time for us to reexamine our first-world and global governments, to reexamine their priorities about what is possible, and really try to push them on the boundaries of that,” she said.