Lawmakers and Environmentalists are celebrating Democratic messaging campaign that they say has put the problem of global warming back at the forefront of the national conversation.
Since Democrats gained control of the House in the last election, about 14 congressional hearings have been held on topics related to climate change. This is a major change from the years when Republicans ran both chambers of Congress.
Polls are also indicating that many Democratic voters are concerned about climate change, increasing the odds that candidates will talk about the issue and potentially take action if they are elected.
New conversations also have opened up in both the House and Senate on the need to tackle climate change. This is putting pressure on GOP lawmakers to put together their own plans.
“Obviously we’ve seen a much more substantive debate on how we address climate change and build a thriving green economy,” said Charlie Cray, senior research specialist at GreenPeace.
“Until now, all we’ve seen is Republicans denying climate change is real and Democrats pushing back based on science. And that’s not enough.”
For Elizabeth Schuster, energy policy manager at Food and Water Watch, the change in Congress has been night and day.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. Although they were slowed by the shutdown, the [Democratic leadership] created the House Select Committee on Climate Crisis, the House was able to hold hearings on climate change, it’s a big welcome change,” she said.
“Climate and energy has finally moved to the top of the conversation, which is very exciting for us who have worked in this space for a long time.”
The most significant conversation starter on climate change has been the Green New Deal, the idea of developing an electric grid that relies on 100 renewable energy.
The concept was championed early this year by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Ny). She introduced a House resolution in its name. More than 100 lawmakers have signed on to back the initiative and nearly every Democratic presidential candidate has backed the Green New Deal in some way.