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Federal Budget Advances Climate Action

We have known for over a century that burning fossil fuels has serious consequences for our climate. Last week, a United Nations climate panel released a dire warning about what that burning has meant for our planet’s temperature and future. That report sounded a note of hope though: if we act urgently as a planet to eliminate fossil fuels, we can stem the warming which will cause the worst climate impacts.

Heeding that call, after years of inaction and months of debate, the U.S. Senate took two key votes last week to rein in climate change with the urgency and scale necessary to act in time.

Senators passed:

  1. A bipartisan “hard” infrastructure bill which includes new investments in clean energy, clean transportation (public transit, passenger rail, and electric vehicles), and clean water. It earned 19 Republican votes along with all 50 Democrats.
  2. A much larger budget blueprint which includes direct targeted investments and tax incentives for clean energy. It would be the biggest climate action bill in our country’s history. This budget resolution will now go through various committees to allocate buckets of money to the various projects outlined in it.

In order to do the job of meeting the climate crisis, it is necessary to enact both of these measures. Tell your members of Congress to pass the full Build Back Better package now!

More months of hard, detailed legislative work remain on the budget items in particular. However, breaking the procedural roadblocks which had made the Senate a climate action graveyard for decades represents a major step forward.

“What a week it’s been for badly needed and long overdue progress on the climate crisis!” declared League of Conservation Voters senior vice president Tiernan Sittenfeld. “On the heels of the Senate passing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill that includes initial investments in clean technology research and development, electric vehicle charging stations, clean water and more, we applaud Majority Leader Schumer along with every Democratic Senator for passing the Budget Resolution. It is imperative that these bills continue to move on a dual track in order to deliver the transformative investments in climate, justice, and jobs that the overwhelming majority of people across the country strongly support. From the ‘code red for humanity’ IPCC report to devastating extreme weather and long-standing environmental and racial injustice and economic inequality, it’s never been more urgent or more important to act on climate at the scale that science and justice require. We commend Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats for returning to D.C. this month to build on this week’s Senate progress. It’s time to enact President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda into law. Failure is not an option.”

Meaningful federal action on the climate crisis cannot come too soon. As Sittenfeld referenced, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest global climate assessment last week as well, and the results are chilling. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the report “a code red for humanity.”

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