Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) submitted the following statement to the Congressional Record on the Green New Deal vote in the Senate:
“Unfortunately, this week’s vote is not really about climate change. The Senate has been asked to invoke cloture on a non-binding resolution that raises but does not really answer a broad range of questions about climate change and our economy.
“The Senate is not ready to end debate on these issues. We have hardly begun.”
“The Green New Deal in all of its ambition and breadth should be recognized as a sign of the frustration that is mounting in this country as a result of Republican obstruction.”
“By harnessing the strength of the American economy to address climate change, we have an opportunity to create millions of new jobs while strengthening the infrastructure and industries that are critical to our future.
“It’s long past time for the Senate to move beyond show votes on non-binding resolutions, and move on to the hard work of actual legislation.”
Senator Feinstein’s full remarks for the record follow:
“Mr. President, I rise to join my colleagues in calling for legislation to resolve the climate crisis. The need for action could not be more urgent. Every day of inaction in the United States Senate brings new risks of irreversible harm to our communities, our environment and future generations.
Unfortunately, this week’s vote is not really about climate change. The Senate has been asked to invoke cloture on a non-binding resolution that raises but does not really answer a broad range of questions about climate change and our economy.
The Senate is not ready to end debate on these issues. We have hardly begun.
The Democratic caucus is united in recognizing the realities of climate change and calling for effective solutions.
However, this constitutes a minority view in the United States Senate. For too many years, our calls for comprehensive climate change legislation have fallen on deaf ears.
The Green New Deal in all of its ambition and breadth should be recognized as a sign of the frustration that is mounting in this country as a result of Republican obstruction.
I do not agree with every aspect of this particular resolution. It addresses not only climate policy but also longstanding partisan disputes over health care, housing, jobs, and other economic policies.
These are important policy debates, but it is my view that the legislative effort to address climate change does not need to wait for agreement in these other areas. The need for action is too urgent.
But, whatever our disagreements about policy approaches and non-binding resolutions, it’s long past time for us to set aside disagreements about the validity of climate science.
The scientific community has warned us about climate change for decades with increasing certainty and specificity, including in a report of the President’s Science Advisory Committee in 1965, five assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since 1990, and four National Climate Assessment reports of the United States Global Change Research Program since 2000.
Most recently, a special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change identified the disastrous consequences if we allow the world to warm by more than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial temperatures.
We are already at more than 1.8 degrees of warming. Sea levels have risen more than eight inches. Ocean acidity has increased by thirty percent. Ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland are melting into the sea at an accelerating pace of more than 400 gigatons per year.
Allowing the world to warm another degree, as we are on a course to do between 2030 and 2052, may well surpass our ability to adapt.
Continued warming will threaten rapid, widespread, and long-lasting increases in heat waves, wildfire, disease, drought, crop failure, sea level rise, ocean acidification, mass extinction, collapsing food chains, mass population migrations, and human conflict.
To avoid warming in excess of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, the special report identified that we will need to cut emissions 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050.
That will require rapid transitions in all sectors at an unprecedented scale. Unless the United States Senate can undertake the hard work of serious legislation soon, it’s clear the world will be unable to meet that goal.
The good news is that there are a large number of good policy ideas the Senate can consider if my Republican colleagues agree to join with us in earnest.
There are bipartisan proposals for legislation to place a price on greenhouse gas emissions by placing a fee on fossil fuels. We can even rebate the revenues to cover the costs for households and industry. These are good ideas that we should explore.
There are numerous examples of clean energy standards and other policy commitments at the state, local and international level. These are also good ideas that we should explore.
My own state of California has demonstrated bold, creative new ideas for cutting emissions at the same time as it has grown to be the fifth largest economy in the world.
The state has mandated that 50 percent of its electricity must be from renewable sources by 2030. We’re actually ahead of schedule and are on track to reach that deadline by 2020 – ten years ahead of schedule. From there, we’re committed to be completely carbon neutral by 2045.
My state’s policies work. From the low-carbon fuel standard to the zero-emission vehicle mandates to the economy-wide cap-and-trade system, each innovative policy approach makes it easier to meet our goals.
By harnessing the strength of the American economy to address climate change, we have an opportunity to create millions of new jobs while strengthening the infrastructure and industries that are critical to our future.
It’s long past time for the Senate to move beyond show votes on non-binding resolutions, and move on to the hard work of actual legislation.
I urge my Republican colleagues to join us in this effort.”