Since the start of the 115th Congress on January 3, the size of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus has more than doubled, from 12 to 28. The caucus, which seeks to generate effective bipartisan solutions to the climate challenges at hand, was founded one year ago by two south Florida representatives, Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL). As of March 17, 14 Republican and 14 Democratic Members of Congress are part of the Climate Solutions Caucus.
Eleven of the fourteen Republican members of the Climate Solutions Caucus have just signed on to the “Republican Climate Resolution,” which was released on March 15. The statement acknowledges that climate change is an issue that must be addressed, and calls for economically viable climate action that adopts conservative principles. It is similar to the Gibson Resolution, which was introduced in the House in September 2015 by then-Representative Chris Gibson (R) of New York.
The Climate Solutions Caucus has the potential to shift the conversation on climate change. Indeed, it is unique in that it is truly bipartisan: it adheres to a “Noah’s Ark” membership scheme, ensuring that for every new Democrat to join the caucus, a Republican must join alongside them (and vice-versa). This helps prevent the major imbalance seen in previous climate-oriented caucuses, such as the Safe Climate Caucus, which has 50 Democratic members and zero Republicans.
The bipartisan nature of the caucus is both groundbreaking and crucial, and its rising membership reflects the fact that more and more Republicans are acknowledging the reality of climate change and breaking with the new Administration on this issue. President Trump has repeatedly said he doesn't believe in man-made climate change. Scott Pruitt, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recently said he does not believe that carbon dioxide is a major contributor to climate change. These climate skeptic sentiments predominate in much of the current administration, despite the widespread consensus in the scientific community that climate change is occurring, and that it is mostly caused by the burning of fossil fuels.
But the caucus's bipartisanship is also a return to form. Support for climate action, and for environmental policies in general, had been—until recently—strongly bipartisan. In fact, strongly bipartisan legislation establishing the EPA was signed into law by President Richard Nixon. According to a series of surveys by Yale and George Mason universities, more than 70 percent of moderate Republicans acknowledge the reality of climate change. Three-quarters of conservatives overall support renewables, and more than 60 percent support regulating carbon dioxide emissions.
Part of what inspired action from the Representatives is that impacts of climate change can already be seen across the United States. “Whether they see rising tides in Fort Lauderdale, intensifying tornadoes along the Central Plains, or worsening droughts affecting farm production, Americans are starting to feel the impacts of climate change to their homes, their livelihoods, and their wallets,” said Rep. Ted Deutch as he explained his reasons for founding the caucus.
It is clear that we have reached a critical tipping point: the conversation can no longer be centered on the existence or causes of climate change, but instead, must focus on economically and socially viable solutions.
For a list of all members of the caucus, maintained by the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, click here [as of March 17, the list is not fully up-to-date, as it is missing Representatives Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Jerry McNerny (D-CA)].
Author: Emma Dietz
- "Creating a bipartisan climate to discuss climate change in Congress," The Hill
- "Climate Solutions Caucus Expands to 24," Citizens Climate Lobby
- "Can only Congress Prevent Climate Change?" Bloomberg
- "Bush Views Shift on Climate Change," NPR
- "Trump will 'definitely' pull out of Paris climate deal, ex-aide says," The Hill
- "Trump: ‘I’m not a big believer in man-made climate change,’" Washington Post
- "Scott Pruitt says CO2 isn't a pollutant. What next on US climate change policy?" Christian Science Monitor