Guest editorial: Elected officials are realizing bipartisan action on climate change is necessary
Citizens’ Climate Lobby
As impeachment proceedings inflame partisan tension in Washington, it appears Republicans and Democrats are coming together on one issue that seemed intractable not long ago: climate change.
In the Senate, Republican Sen. Mike Braun recently teamed up with Democrat Chris Coons to form the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. Our Senator, Mitt Romney, joined the Caucus last week.
The Senate group complements the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the House that was established in 2016. The Caucus enabled members of both parties to come together for serious discussions about solving climate change. Today, there are myriad bipartisan climate bills in the House, thanks in part to the collaborative atmosphere the caucus created.
A bipartisan approach to solving climate change is essential: Regardless of which party controls the Senate and White House, political winds shift, and policies with broad support will withstand those shifts.
Legislators are seeking common ground on climate change because public opinion has reached a tipping point. A CBS News poll recently found two-thirds of Americans view climate change as a crisis; a recent Ipsos poll even found that 77 percent of young GOP voters regard climate as a serious issue.
It’s not just polling that motivates Congress — it’s citizens. Volunteers with Citizens’ Climate Lobby are carrying a clear message to their representatives: “Make climate a bridge issue, not a wedge issue.” This year alone, CCL volunteers have held 1,131 meetings with congressional offices of both parties to address climate action. Last summer, 25 CCL volunteers from Utah traveled to Washington to lobby our legislators and more were trips were planned this fall.
Now that Republicans and Democrats are talking to each other, what major climate legislation will they support together?
A price on carbon offers promising common ground. Thousands of U.S. economists support carbon pricing and dividends as an effective tool to reduce emissions quickly. Newsweek recently surveyed 300 multinational corporations and found that 95% favor mandatory carbon pricing. According to Luntz Global, carbon pricing that includes a revenue return to Americans has four-to-one support among all voters.
This is precisely the policy put forth in the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763), which has support from 68 House members, including Republican Francis Rooney. Revenue collected from carbon fees would be paid out in equal dividends to every household; in 10 years, a family of four would receive an annual “carbon dividend” of about $3,500. Resources for the Future estimates this policy would reduce carbon emissions 47% by 2030, with the bill targeting 90% by 2050.
Here in Summit County, support for this legislation has been expressed with resolutions passed by Park City Municipal Corporation and the Summit County Council, numerous constituent letters, and endorsements by the following local community leaders, businesses and communities of faith: Sally Elliot, Olympic ski athletes Liz Stephen and Rosie Brennan, extreme skiers John and Angel Collinson, Ski Utah, Recycle Utah, the People’s Health Clinic, and Reverend Robinson from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, to name but a few. That support, here and throughout the country, sends a signal to Republican lawmakers that backing H.R. 763 can be a politically astute move.
Despite the current hyper-partisan atmosphere, elected officials are realizing that climate change is one area where differences must be set aside for the good of our nation and the world. And finally, they’re starting to act on it.
Mark Reynolds is Executive Director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. Lauren Barros is Co-Leader of the Wasatch Back chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby.
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