House Passes First Climate Bill in a Decade

The Climate Action Now Act would ensure the United States makes good on its Paris Agreement promises.

Students at a rally to call for urgent climate action, Los Angeles, California

Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

The House of Representatives approved the Climate Action Now Act today—marking the first congressional vote in a decade to address the threats of climate change. The bill would ensure that the United States follows through on its Paris Agreement commitments in spite of backtracking by President Trump. “Nothing better demonstrates the newfound climate leadership in Congress than today’s vote,” says Rhea Suh, president of NRDC.

The bill, also called H.R. 9, would require that President Trump send a plan to Congress detailing how the country will meet its emissions reductions targets—a roughly 26 to 28 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2025—as laid out by the Paris Agreement. It would also block Trump from using federal funds to withdraw from the agreement, which he announced his intentions to do in June of 2017.

Since Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement, a wave of states, cities, and corporations have stepped up and made ambitious commitments to reduce climate-damaging pollution. Public concern about our climate crisis has also risen across generational, geographic, and partisan lines, according to recent polls. The shift in public opinion is fueled in part by extreme storms, record heat, and dire scientific reports emphasizing the urgency to act. “The House is responding to the rising calls, from every quarter, for action to combat the soaring costs and the mounting dangers of climate change,” Suh says.

Though H.R. 9 is unlikely to move through the Republican-controlled Senate, its passing in one congressional chamber sends a strong signal to “the country—and the world—that Americans intend to keep the promises we made in Paris,” Suh says. “Blocking this long overdue climate progress would recklessly put the health and future of our children at risk.”

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