WASHINGTON — High-ranking House Democrats unveiled legislation Tuesday to zero out domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, including deep cuts in the next decade, a deadline that has support from the world’s leading climate scientists.
The draft bill would set a U.S. goal to reduce greenhouse emissions by at least 50 percent, from 2005 levels, by 2030. It would also set a national goal to “achieve net-zero” emissions by mid-century and direct heads of federal agencies to come up with plans for how to meet those targets by 2050.
“We have to act decisively,” Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, told reporters. “The time for small marginal change is long past. If we don’t take meaningful nationwide action now our children will inherit an economy and a world beyond their capacity to repair.”
In the Senate, Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., used similar language on Feb. 3 to describe climate change, calling it “the existential threat of our time.”
Reps. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., and Bobby L. Rush, D-Ill., the chairmen of the panel’s subcommittees on the environment and energy respectively, said there would be hearings on the bill. While the committee members said they aim to move the bill through the committee process and gain Republican support, they did not rule out using the budget reconciliation process to advance it.
“It’s a plan, it’s a blueprint for bringing America back into stronger leadership,” Tonko said.
The legislation is the first expansive climate bill either party has offered this Congress, which has seen Democrats make climate change an early priority on Capitol Hill and in the White House. Congressional Republicans have decried President Joe Biden’s steps to rein in emissions.
While China emits the most greenhouse gases of any nation now, the U.S. remains the No. 1 historical emitter.
The legislation, which would authorize $565 billion over 10 years, is more aggressive than a previous version of the bill introduced in January 2020.
Broad in scope, the new legislation covers the power, transportation, industry and manufacturing sectors, as well as environmental justice, waste reduction and financial topics.