Blueprint for Bipartisan Climate Action
In the wake of the most recent update from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we have two choices: continue to debate climate science and hope a piecemeal policy approach will work or accept the science and start discussing economy-wide solutions to reduce our emissions.
There may be a path forward in the recent bipartisan Senate vote to pass the infrastructure package.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act makes much-needed investments in American roads, railways, bridges, the electrical grid and broadband internet. While I can’t say whether I fully agree with the bill mainly because I don’t have time in my day to read the entire 2,702-page bill, I do applaud the process which resulted in the bill’s development. Given today’s divided and frenetic political climate, the bill’s passage serves as a reminder of what bipartisanship can achieve; even in these divided times,it doesn’t need to be elusive.
Sadly, bipartisanship is rarely rewarded anymore even though the issues facing our nation cannot and should not be solved by one party alone. The post-partisan cooperation displayed by the working group of Senate Republicans and Democrats who put country over party to methodically lead on the infrastructure package should be the norm, not the exception.
In fact, I would challenge the very same group to come back from the August recess ready to do the same for climate change.
In order to make climate solutions durable, they must be bipartisan. Fortunately, there is plenty of bipartisan desire to solve climate change. At a time when even the oil and gas companies and trade associations are calling for a price on carbon, when major global corporations are making net zero emissions commitments, when a majority of Americans believe the federal government should act, when Republicans are created their own caucuses and task forces devoted to the issue, and when slim margins in the House and Senate demand the two sides work together, lawmakers should rise to the challenge to enact an economy-wide bill that prices carbon.
Whereas Team Infrastructure had many infrastructure-related problems to figure out in one comprehensive bill, when it comes to climate change, we already know what policy mechanisms exist. Lawmakers just have to use the existing political capital and find the guts to do it. While the IPCC report sounds an alarm, it also tells us we have time.
Just not enough time to run out the clock.
As the infrastructure package demonstrated, good policy takes time to craft. Good policy takes negotiation. Good policy and negotiation takes both sides of the aisle—and strong leadership. Senators who engaged on infrastructure, from Mr. Energy Efficiency himself, Ohio’s Rob Portman, to Arizona’s Krysten Sinema, who holds the seat once held by Senator John McCain, the first Republican to engage in a substantive way on climate change—should roll up sleeves and get back at it. The nation—the world—needs their cooperation one more time.
Thoughtfully crafted solutions where both sides are counted in governance requires party members to put the country ahead of partisan politics. Passage of the Senate infrastructure package was a start; now it’s time to do it again and this time working together tackling the climate crisis. Neither America nor the world can afford for the efforts on the infrastructure bill to be a one-hit wonder of bipartisanship.
Mary Anna Mancuso is a spokesperson for RepublicEn.org and political strategist based in New York, NY.