Preserving some drilling, Pelosi and climate panel push Congress to get nation to net-zero emissions by 2050

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats on the House Special Committee on Climate are pushing Congress to set a national goal of net-zero emissions by at least 2050 and to more aggressively shift to renewable energy over fossil fuels.

It’s an agenda, they argue, that is necessary to slow the man-made consequences of a warming planet and it’s largely in step with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s pledge on climate. Further, it shares the spirit of steps already taken by private-sector heavyweights including Microsoft MSFT, +1.48% and the often criticized fast-delivery giant Amazon.com AMZN, +1.91% to reduce their own climate impact.

Related:Microsoft aims to be ‘carbon negative’ by 2030

And:Amazon’s $2 billion fund for innovation in curbing climate change is latest sustainability effort

Pelosi, the Democrat of California, and Rep. Kathy Castor, Democrat of Florida, the head of the special panel, on Tuesday unveiled the plan that also includes interim targets in 2030 and 2040, including net-zero emissions in the power sector by 2040 and a push to require all new cars and light trucks be fully electric by 2035. The release was put off initially because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our plan will put people back to work and rebuild in a way that benefits all of us,” said Rep. Castor. “The health of our families and the air we breathe are at the heart of our plan. We chart the course to good-paying jobs in solar and wind energy, in manufacturing American-made electric vehicles, and in strengthening communities, so they are more resilient to flooding, extreme heat, intense hurricanes and wildfires.”

Some environmental advocates called the plan the most comprehensive goal-setting for Congress in a decade. Some Republicans object to the costs of this approach, especially as the U.S. has moved into a competitive fossil-fuel CL00, -0.60% production position with Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Other opponents, emboldened by the Trump White House, stand by claims that climate change is not a crisis. Trump has pulled the U.S. from the Paris climate pact in which 200 countries volunteered to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep global temperatures from rising no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Trump has linked his withdrawal to claims of non-compliance by developing nations.

Read:For first time ever, majority of shareholders push oil giant Chevron to align with Paris climate pact

A group of House Republicans released their own set of climate-change policy proposals earlier this year that emphasized technological innovation and investing in carbon capture to control emissions.

The Pelosi-Castor proposal also recognizes that renewable energy development such as offshore wind should be a priority, and calls for the end to offshore oil and gas drilling. It does not ban future oil and gas leasing on federal lands.

“This is not a plan that [President Trump] can lambast as an end to capitalism,” wrote Monica Medina and Miro Korenha, in the Our Daily Planet newsletter.

The recommendations, which also tie in labor protections and update building codes, are largely in line with Biden’s campaign pledge to take the U.S. to carbon-neutral by 2050. At first glance, the plan, especially its timeline, isn’t as aggressive as the Green New Deal advanced by other lawmakers, including New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, last year. It found little traction in a divided Congress.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they believe the federal government should act more aggressively to combat climate change, and almost as many say the issue is already affecting their community in some way, a June Pew Research Center survey said.

And according to a June 2020 Yale, Climate Nexus and George Mason poll, more than 70% of voters queried support legislation favoring a “clean” economy that is less reliant on fossil fuels.

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