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Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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The Democratic-controlled House approved the first climate change-related legislation in a decade Thursday, which would keep the United States in the international Paris Accords.
The House voted 231 to 190 for the Climate Action Now Act (H.R. 9), a bill that would prevent the Trump administration from withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement.
“This is about science, science, science. There is an overwhelming number – 86 percent — of Americans know this is a crisis,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said just ahead of the vote, referring climate change. “They know that human behavior has an impact on it and they want us to act.”
The Paris Accords are a United Nations agreement dating to 2016. Its long-term goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels; and to limit the increase to 1.5 °C, since scientists believe this would substantially reduce the risks and effects of climate change.
The agreement, which involves 195 nations worldwide, was signed by President Barack Obama, but after Donald Trump took office, he took steps to remove the United States from the agreement.
If the Climate Action Now Act becomes law, it would overrule Trump’s previous actions on the agreement.
“Democrats said we would honor our commitment to act on the climate crisis. Now we’re delivering. This is the first major piece of climate legislation to pass the House in 10 years and it won’t be the last,” said Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), chairwoman of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, a committee created by Democrats when they took the House majority in January.
“The Paris Climate Agreement carbon pollution reduction goals are vital to the growing clean energy economy and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. Instead of cutting and running from this agreement as President Trump proposes, the House voted to honor our commitment,” Castor added. “When America leads on cutting carbon pollution, the world follows, so this is a major signal to our allies that Americans overwhelmingly support this agreement. We deserve clean air, family-sustaining jobs in the growing clean energy industry, and policies that work for the people, not corporate polluters.
“I’m grateful to citizens across America who are speaking loud and clear on climate change. I’m appreciative of my colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee and my fellow members of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis for their work on this legislation. This is exactly the sort of collaboration we need to address the climate crisis,” Castor concluded. “And I’m thankful for the Republican members who embraced bipartisanship today and voted in favor of this bill. America’s leadership, the health of our families and the health of our planet should not be partisan issues.”
Although this legislation was approved by the House, it faces a highly unlikely future in the Republican Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called himself the “Grim Reaper” of Democratic legislation.