KEY POINTS

  • The Democrat-led House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis put forward its proposal to address climate change after a year-and-a-half of research and planning
  • The plan calls for $1.5 trillion in investments to make the U.S. "green" and have zero-emissions by 2050 through overhauling electricity, manfuacturing, transportation and construction
  • Some concern remains about securing bipartisan support for a plan that calls for a major role to be played by the federal government

Nearly five decades after the last meaningful federal legislation to address climate change, congressional Democrats are preparing to address the issue with a plan that marries climate solutions with economics en route to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The plan, developed by the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, incorporates several key pillars, including clean electricity, transportation, manufacturing and construction.

“Climate solutions are economic solutions,” Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., told reporters this week. “Solving the climate crisis means putting Americans back to work in clean energy jobs that will grow our economy.”

The committee’s plan calls for a move to a mix of renewable energy and sped-up decarbonization, using grants, investments and other business incentives to encourage businesses to develop solar, wind and other forms of clean energy. Bipartisan think-tank Energy Innovations said this potentially could create 530,000 jobs annually.

The committee’s transportation plan calls for toughening emissions standards weakened by the Trump administration, with the hope any new cars would be zero-emission vehicles by 2040. It would also require ensuring the infrastructure is in place to support the wide use of “clean” cars.

Infrastructure support also ties into the greater plan for construction, with incentives for municipalities to adopt building codes to make new residential and commercial buildings zero-emission.

The plan would introduce production standards for manufacturing plants and “rebuild U.S. industry for global climate leadership.” To accomplish this, standards would be set to help cut pollution and leakage typically caused by the U.S. gas and oil industry. Larger investments would be made in domestic companies promoting clean energy solutions and incentives for companies to become “clean” manufacturers.

The committee’s plan calls for a $1.5 trillion investment to make the U.S. “green.”

Christy Goldfuss, Center for American Progress senior vice president for Energy and Environment, praised the committee's effort:

“We are excited by today’s introduction of a bold and detailed plan to guide the United States to a 100% clean future and avert climate catastrophe. The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis shows that building an economy that protects clean air, nature and public health while advancing racial and environmental justice is not only a worthy goal but also an achievable and necessary step toward creating a planet that is safe for future generations. The task before us may well require levels of investment never before seen in American history. We must use every tool in the policy playbook, including clean energy, sustainable transportation, and natural solutions -- but this is a nation of firsts, and our communities will rise to the challenge. Tomorrow will be better if we agree to make it so.”

The question becomes: Can a bipartisan solution be found?

Niskanen Center director Joseph Majkut told CBS News Republicans may hesite over the proposed plan because of the level of the role of the U.S. government. Instead, Majkut said the nonpartisan think tank may favor a carbon tax.

“To chart a course of high climate ambition and small government, mechanisms like a carbon tax are necessary,” Majkut said. “Governments do a lot to shape markets and a carbon tax would allow market actors to decide when, where and how to best reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

However, Castor has pushed back against the idea of partisanship regarding climate change.

“There's nothing partisan about solving the climate crisis and moving to a clean energy economy that puts families and workers first,” Castor said. “There's nothing polarizing or controversial about ensuring our children can breathe clean air. There's nothing polarizing about helping homes and small businesses withstand the next disaster.”