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Bullet policy · Sep 14, 2020

Senate Democrats Outline Plan to Address Climate Crisis

On August 25, 2020, the Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis released a report, The Case for Climate Action: Building a Clean Economy for the American People, outlining a policy roadmap for addressing climate change.

The panel, led by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and comprised entirely of Democratic lawmakers, provides “a framework for Congress to finally do what is necessary to build the clean energy future.” The report makes several recommendations for tackling climate change, including increasing federal spending on climate action to 2 percent of gross domestic product annually in order to achieve 100 percent net-zero emissions by 2050. The report also sets forth a goal of creating 10 million new jobs and calls for net-zero global emissions by 2050. Notably, the plan would ensure that 40 percent of the benefits from federal climate investments “help communities of color and low-income, deindustrialized, and disadvantaged communities.”

“We have the opportunity to build more and better jobs for the American people, jobs that’ll help re-stimulate the economy and aid in our transition to clean energy,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY). “When Democrats retake the majority in the Senate, we will unify to move swiftly on legislation to tackle the climate crisis. Passing climate legislation will be a top priority for Senate Democrats and for me.”

Earlier this year, Democratic lawmakers in the House released a similar report, which included recommendations provided by AIBS in response to a 2019 request for information from the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

Unlike the House plan, the Senate plan does not offer specific legislation, but instead provides a collection of broad policy prescriptions focused on different sectors of the economy, including electricity, industry, agriculture, and transportation.

The Senate framework calls for investing in natural infrastructure solutions, such as ecosystem restoration. “Unlike traditional infrastructure, which deteriorates with age and can actually aggravate flooding, nature-based solutions are self-sustaining,” reads the report. “Green infrastructure also provides significant community benefits like improved air quality, recreational space, lower air temperatures, shade for pedestrians, and ecosystem restoration.”

Like the House report, the Senate report also calls for expanding broadband internet access to farmers so they can “take advantage of precision agriculture technology and use precise weather forecasting technology in their decision-making, which can help reduce inputs and use of carbon-intensive practices.”

The panel also recommends that the United States recommit to the Paris climate agreement to “rejoin the global leadership acting on climate”; integrate climate into federal agency decision-making on matters related to foreign policy, national security, and humanitarian assistance; and accelerate investments in research and development to support clean energy and other climate-related research.