The American electorate is reaching a breaking point in this hyper-contentious election cycle. Yet, there are inklings of good news on the horizon.
It is the evidence that the two-party system can work when the political will exists.
House Resolution 6240, known as the Delaney-Gibson Climate Solutions Commission Act, is named for its Democratic and Republican sponsors. Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) and Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY) have pointedly reached across the aisle to kick start a bipartisan commission on climate change and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
The other Democratic and Republican co-sponsors on board are:
- Alan Lowenthal (D-CA)
- Bob Dold (R-IL)
- Ted Deutsch (D-FL)
- Carlos Curbelo (R-FL)
- Scott Peters (D-CA)
The bill creates a National Climate Solutions Commission, tasked with offering proposals for decreasing non-sequestered greenhouse gas emissions.
The bill is summed up in its defining declaration:
“To accelerate reductions in climate pollution in order to leave a better planet for future generations, and to create a bipartisan commission to develop economically viable policies to achieve science-based emissions reduction targets.”
As outlined by Rep. Delaney, initiatives will be “based on the findings of the scientific community.” Delaney underscored the “challenge of climate change.” He said, “It is absolutely necessary that we act.” He thanked his co-sponsors for their courage in stepping up to the plate and noted, “Climate change is a threat to our economy, our health, our environment and our security and it’s time for us to work together.”
Rep. Gibson was clear about the difficult choices that faced the nation, calling the resolution “a critical piece of legislation.” Outlining the impact of climate change on public health, the economy, agriculture, and national security, Gibson asserted,
“It is imperative that we begin to make the correct choices today to mitigate and reverse human causes of our changing climate before our children and grandchildren must make considerably more difficult decisions to achieve the same goals.”
Once established, the commission will have 10 members. Each political party will appoint 5 people. The three key objectives are to:
- Undertake a comprehensive review of economically viable public and private actions or policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Make recommendations to the President, Congress and the States.
- Use as its goals for emissions reductions the estimated rates of reduction that reflect the latest scientific findings of what is needed to avoid serious health and environmental consequences.
Experts from the sectors of climate and energy, the science community, and non-governmental organizations will be chosen to serve — with the aim of delivering information from a wide range of parties. In tandem, the U.S. Government Accountability Office will report on financial tools, policies, and institutions that can contribute to the efforts of the commission.
Rep. Cubelo (who I previously interviewed) and Rep. Ted Deutsch are both from Florida, where rising sea levels pose a real threat to their districts. Earlier this year, they created the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, which now has twenty members. H.R.6240 is the next logical step on the trajectory to getting down to the real work of solving our environmental problems — and putting the partisan rhetoric aside.
There has been an unfortunate lack of discourse in the Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates about climate change and how the United States is going to keep its commitments to the Paris Climate Accord.
The Delaney-Gibson Climate Solutions Commission Act sets a unique bar for lawmakers who continue to drag their feet. Ironically, a recent Pew Research Poll shows that American public opinion is shifting toward favoring renewable energies.
Come January, with a new President in the White House and a different Congress on Capitol Hill, the groundwork will be in place to acknowledge a precedent for bipartisan efforts on the challenges of climate disruption.
Hopefully, 2017 will herald in a fresh look at climate solutions that have the capacity to alter the current political scenario. The health of our families depend up on it.