The climate is changing, and humans are contributing to these changes. We believe that there is much common ground on which all sides of this discussion could come together to address climate change with policies that are practical, flexible, predictable, and durable.
— The US Chamber of Commerce
The US Chamber of Commerce, through its Global Energy Institute (GEI), recently announced the launch of a major new climate initiative called the American Energy: Cleaner, Stronger campaign. It’s admitted purpose is to “counter the Green New Deal (GND) with an energy innovation agenda…to persuade the public and Congress that technology is better than regulation in addressing climate change.” (emphasis added).
In taking a swipe at the GND, the Chamber has handed its progressive Democratic authors and supporters a key victory—certainly something it had not intended to do.
Whatever the Green New Deal is or isn’t, the idea of it has accomplished what was thought Impossible just months ago--the admission by traditionally conservative deniers that climate change is real and needs to be acted upon now. The Chamber’s announcement boldly states inaction is not an option. The actions to be taken, however, remain matters of dogmatic ideological debate.
On its face, the Chamber’s call to action is a far cry from its 2017 policy priorities. Today climate change is on the minds of voters because it is on the lips of every Democrat in Congress, as well as those vying for the party’s presidential nomination. The Chamber’s newly announced campaign is an effort to remain relevant.
Should there be any doubt about the positive impact of the 2018 midterm elections on the willingness of politicians at least to discuss the realities of climate change and what the reactions of lawmakers should be, let me dispel them now.
It is being reported that the Trump campaign has put out a call for a list of climate change victories that can be attributed to Trump’s time in office. According to the McClatchy report, the call reflects a shift in strategy ahead of the 2020 election as polls show growing voter concern over global warming, two sources familiar with the campaign.
If true, the willingness of Trump to speak in terms of climate change victories marks a stunning turnaround from his usual references to climate change science as a huckster's hoax perpetrated by liberal university-types to frighten governments and foundations into giving them funds for fake research.
A few days ago, Trump was telling the audience at the National Republican Congressional Committee’s annual spring dinner that he hoped Hill Republicans wouldn’t attack the Green New Deal so completely as to defeat the Democrat’s desire to do anything about climate change. Why? Because he intends to beat them up over their socialist notions on energy and the environment.
The Green New Deal, done by a young bartender, 29 years old. The first time I heard it, I said, 'That's the craziest thing.
If they beat me with the Green New Deal, I deserve to lose.
It was during this dinner speech that Trump said that the noise of windmills cause cancer.
Technically the Green New Deal (GND) has yet to live as a formal legislative proposal as compared to “a sense of resolution.” Therefore, any reports of its demise would be premature.
The Senate’s vote on Majority Leader McConnell’s GND resolution seems to have marked the end of a chapter. Although the GND concept will continue to be talked about, America’s climate plan will ultimately be defined by a series of legislative acts rather than a single integrated piece of legislation. Therein, perhaps, lies the problem.
Disaggregation of the various elements of the Green New Deal, as broadly-brushed during the 2018 election cycle by Representative Ocasio-Cortez and socially progressive organizations like the Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats, is as real as it is apparent. Much less apparent is whether the introduction of individual pieces of legislation reflects a rejection of the broader vision and will ultimately lead to an ignominious end to the newly charged national climate debate.
No one would be blamed for thinking that breaking apart the GND’s component pieces will end as badly for the environment as it did for Mr. Dumpty following his great fall. How many times have politicians parceled out pieces of a broadly integrative policy for solving complex social problems only to make it easier to kill?
Joel B. Stronberg
Joel Stronberg, MS, JD., of The JBS Group is a veteran clean energy policy analyst with over 30 years’ experience, based in Washington, DC.