Reynolds & Turnock: Bipartisan hope emerging on climate emergency
As impeachment proceedings ratchet up the partisan tension in Washington, D.C., we feel hopeful about progress made on the pressing problems of the day. Republicans and Democrats continue to come together on one issue that seemed intractable not long ago: the climate emergency.
In the Senate, Republican Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana teamed up with Maryland Democrat Chris Coons to form a bipartisan climate solutions group.
The Senate group complements the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the House established in 2016. This judgment-free zone, where members of both parties come together, includes serious discussions about climate emergency solutions. Today, a myriad of bipartisan climate bills wait on action in the House, thanks in no small part to the collaborative atmosphere the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus created.
Republicans and Democrats seek common ground on the climate emergency because public opinion reached a tipping point they can't ignore. A CBS News poll in September found two-thirds of Americans view the climate emergency as a crisis or serious problem, and a majority want immediate action.
Overwhelming majorities of younger GOP voters regard the climate emergency as a serious threat, too: 77% of them said so in a survey by Ipsos and Newsy this fall.
Not just polling motivates Congress. The voices of individual citizens also make a difference. Volunteers with Citizens' Climate Lobby carry a clear message to their representatives: "Make climate a bridge issue, not a wedge issue." CCL volunteers had 1,131 meetings with congressional offices so far this year to bring the parties together on climate solutions.
Now that we have Republicans and Democrats talking to each other about climate solutions, what major climate legislation will they support together?
A price on carbon offers promising common ground. Thousands of U.S. economists support carbon pricing as an effective tool to reduce emissions quickly. Newsweek recently surveyed 300 multinational corporations and found that 95% favor mandatory carbon pricing. And according to Luntz Global, carbon pricing that includes a revenue return to Americans has four-to-one support among all voters.
This year, four carbon pricing bills have been introduced with bipartisan sponsorship.
Of the four, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763) has attracted the most support, with 66 House members now signed on, including Republican Francis Rooney of Florida.
Here in Beaverton, support for declaring a climate emergency has been expressed at City Council meetings by community members. The City Council will consider in November a climate action plan and forming a Climate Advisory Committee. Almost 9.5 million, or about 4% of the US workforce, employed in the "green economy" generated $1.31 trillion in annual revenue, or about 7% of U.S. gross domestic product. That support, here and throughout the country, means a politically astute move by Republican lawmakers requires backing H.R. 763.
Despite the current hyper-partisan atmosphere, the climate emergency is one area where elected officials realize that differences must be set aside for the good of our nation and the world. Elected officials also realize that they must take action.
Mark Reynolds is executive director of Citizens' Climate Lobby. Richard Turnock is a member of the Portland chapter of Citizens' Climate Lobby, Beaverton Hub of Sunrise Movement and South Beaverton NAC.
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