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Climate Change Debate Rages On

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by Patrick J. Paul

With 2019 just around the corner, recent historic hurricane and fire damage and Democratic mid-term election gains in the House and across many states will cause climate change impacts, policy and legislation to take center stage, notwithstanding the Trump administration’s doubts.

For example, On November 27,  a bipartisan bill, H.R. 7173 entitled the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (the Act) was introduced in Congress. Intended to be a climate solution more far reaching than any prior national policy, the Act includes stated goals of creating 2 million jobs, lowering health care costs, promoting energy innovation, and encouraging consumer spending. In addition, the Act would create a Carbon Dividend Trust Fund designed to promote development of clean energy technology and innovation, in part by imposing a nationwide price on carbon emissions and purportedly returning the revenue on a monthly basis to the general public.

The Act’s sponsors – members of the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus formed in early 2016 – proclaim the bill as a climate change solution that is supported by both economists and climate scientists as being the most effective approach to climate change. Still in its infancy, no predictions can be made about the Act’s success, though barring some dramatic change in the Trump position, even legislative success likely would be met with executive veto.

Ironically, only a few days earlier on Black Friday November 23, 2018, the Trump Administration released the over 1,600 page 4th National Climate Assessment report. Citing “very high levels of intelligence,” President Trump denied its findings, which found in part “that the evidence of human-caused climate change is overwhelming and continues to strengthen, that the impacts of climate change are intensifying across the country, and that climate-related threats to Americans’ physical, social, and economic well-being are rising.”

Notwithstanding the President’s skepticism, local governments themselves are tackling the related issues. For example, in Flagstaff, Arizona, on November 20, 2018, the City Council unanimously approved Flagstaff’s Climate Change Action and Adaptation Plan which among other things aims to reduce Flagstaff’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 based upon 2016 levels.

Suffice it to say, stay tuned – much more is to follow on the climate change front – Presidential doubts notwithstanding.