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Carper, Coons Introduce Legislation to Achieve Net-Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the U.S. by No Later Than 2050

WASHINGTON, D.C – Today, U.S. Senator Chris Coons joined U.S. Senator Tom Carper (both D-Del.), top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and 31 of their colleagues in introducing legislation that would put the United States on a path to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2050. 

This net-zero legislation is supported collectively by major environmental groups, business groups and organized labor.

The world’s leading scientists have warned that humanity must limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. According to the United Nations annual Emissions Gap Report released last month, collective global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not yet substantial enough to reach that temperature goal.

The Clean Economy Act heeds the call for bold climate action and at the same time boosts American competitiveness, promotes healthier frontline communities and fosters a growing economy that works for everyone. The Clean Economy Act directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use existing authorities to put our country on a pathway to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2050. 

Cosponsors of the legislation also include Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore).

“This legislation would move our country to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions while also empowering American workers and uplifting our most vulnerable communities,” Senator Carper said.“Climate change is the greatest and gravest threat to our planet. We can overcome the climate crisis, but to do that, we need all hands on deck—and we need to right the ship. The Clean Economy Act is one of the quickest ways we can jumpstart government-wide climate action. By using tools already at EPA’s disposal—tools that have been used under this administration to increase global warming pollution instead of decreasing it—we can take on the greatest threat to our planet in a way that grows our economy, supports a strong labor workforce and protects frontline communities.”

“I am proud to join my colleagues in advocating for our nation to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Delawareans dealing with flooding and sea level rise know that climate change is an already-present threat that we must be addressing today. I am also pleased that this bill contains strong protections for U.S. labor, communities of color, and economically distressed communities,” Senator Coons said.

“If we are serious about addressing the climate crisis, the U.S. must strive for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,” said Senator Bennet. “The Clean Economy Act will drastically reduce our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, benefit rural and disadvantaged communities, and promote economic growth, all while improving public health. Climate change is an existential threat and we can’t push it off to the next generation. We need to act now.”

“Eliminating US greenhouse gas emissions is the boldest, biggest step we can take to stop climate change— and the Clean Economy Act provides a path,” said Senator Blumenthal. “Empowering the EPA and supporting the green economy are key to reaching that goal by 2050. We don’t have another moment to waste in correcting course on the climate crisis. By focusing on public health and cost effectiveness, and supporting a strong labor force, we can boost economic development while preserving the planet.”

“Getting our nation’s energy policy right is the key to America’s future prosperity and global competitiveness. It is the way we can mitigate the worst impacts of climate change that are already being felt in communities across Washington. This landmark bill provides a roadmap to break away from our dangerous overdependence on fossil fuels and reap the economic, environmental, and national security benefits of a more efficient and independent energy system,” Senator Cantwell said.

“As the climate crisis, which threatens the health and well-being of my constituents in Maryland and Americans across the nation, becomes increasingly apparent, people are rightfully demanding action from their federal government,” said Senator Cardin. “The Clean Economy Act recognizes that the EPA lies at the center of America’s climate future and empowers it to address climate change proactively. Making the necessary investments to reach net-zero will strengthen our economy, create good-paying jobs, and protect public health and national security.  The most expensive and unrealistic course of action is to ignore the mounting costs of climate change and fail to respond.”

“The climate crisis demands immediate action, and it is our responsibility to set and carry out a bold, science-based agenda that gets our greenhouse emissions to net zero by 2050. I am committed to fighting for solutions that not only rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also invest in our workforce and protect frontline communities. The Clean Economy Act demands the kind of labor standards and investments in America’s workforce that are absolutely necessary as we work together to address the climate crisis. I am proud to join my colleagues in cosponsoring this legislation for the sake of the climate, our communities and generations to come,” Senator Casey said.

“The climate crisis is an existential threat, and we need bold action to address it. By directing the EPA to set a goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, we’ll be taking a huge leap forward in protecting our planet, creating good-paying green jobs, and reclaiming America’s global leadership on climate. I’m proud to join Senator Carper in this effort to take on one of the greatest challenges facing humanity today,” Senator Cortez Masto said.

“The climate crisis is a dangerous and growing threat not just to our environment, but also to our economy, public health and national security,” said Senator Duckworth. “As temperatures continue to rise, there’s not a moment to lose—we need to take action now to curb climate change before it’s too late. I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce the Clean Economy Act, which would set this nation on an ambitious path to meet net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”

“The Clean Economy Act calls for a bold strategy to address climate change by setting America on an aggressive, yet achievable, path to meet net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2050. The bill empowers the EPA to use its existing authorities to promote healthier communities.  If we want to give our kids and grandkids a livable planet, we must have the determination to seriously reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Senator Durbin said.

“Climate change is real and we can’t afford to do nothing. The Clean Economy Act makes smart investments to reduce emissions and strengthen our economy. In California, we’re ahead of schedule to meet the ambitious goal of 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045. At the same time, our economy has grown to be the fifth largest in the world. That’s proof positive that fighting climate change supports a strong economy,” Senator Feinstein said.

“The Clean Economy Act takes bold steps to address the existential threat posed by climate change by implementing a plan to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,” Senator Hassan said.“By drastically reducing our country’s greenhouse gas emissions, we are prioritizing public health and safety while also fostering economic growth.”

“The devastating consequences of climate change in Hawaii are clear, and that is why we were the first state in the country to commit to achieving a carbon neutral economy by 2045, which includes 100% renewable power. The Clean Economy Act spurs similar bold action across the country by setting a goal of achieving net-zero U.S. greenhouse gas production by 2050. The bill also requires a focus on public health, innovative and equitable access to worker training, and enhancing America’s global competitiveness, all of which will be essential to address the broad impacts of climate change,”Senator Hirono said.

“It’s past time we get serious about addressing climate change.  The EPA can and should work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at minimal costs, which will protect environment and strengthen the economy. This bill jumpstarts that by directing the EPA to use its authorities to work towards the net-zero goal by 2050,” Senator Kaine said.

“Climate change is the most pressing existential threat we face – but it is also an opportunity for America to lead the way into the economy of the future,” said Senator King. “We have a chance to act boldly and create a clean energy economy that taps into American innovation and lets us fulfill our most basic duty: passing a better world on to our children than the one we received. We don’t have to choose between a thriving economy and a healthy environment – we can have both, if we’re ready to do the work.”

“Climate change is one of the defining challenges of the 21st Century and its impact on the American people, our economy and our communities will be profound.  Future generations will surely judge us by how we choose to meet this challenge. The Clean Economy Act recognizes the reality that climate action is both a necessity and an economic opportunity,” Senator Leahy said.

“There is no time to waste to reduce greenhouse emissions and get our country back on track to aggressively address the growing threat posed by climate change,” said Senator Menendez. “The Clean Economy Act would do that by achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050. This bold, achievable plan would improve environmental quality and the public health of Americans by also significantly cutting emissions of smog, smoot and other dangerous pollutants. It’s time to restore American to leadership on this important challenge to our very existence, despite the Trump Administration’s abdication of its basic moral obligation to guarantee a livable planet for the generations to come.”

“There are significant and meaningful steps that can be taken to address climate change that benefit Michigan businesses, workers and communities,” Senator Peters said. “Although many Michigan communities and businesses are already working toward the goal of net zero emissions by 2050, now more than ever we need to also work at the federal level to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions and lay the groundwork for a clean energy economy.”

“We cannot wait to act on climate change. Hawaii has already set ambitious clean energy targets, and it’s time for the rest of the nation to follow our example,” said Senator Schatz. “This bill is both smart climate policy and smart economic policy, putting America on a path toward net-zero emissions. It’s an opportunity for us to protect the future of our planet while prioritizing good jobs for working people.”

“Addressing the climate crisis means using all the tools at our disposal to get our country and the planet to net-zero carbon dioxide emissions as fast as possible, and certainly no later than 2050. The Clean Economy Act builds on the enormous momentum for bold action and the knowledge and experience already within our federal agencies to tackle this challenge, making our communities healthier and our economy stronger,” said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.

“Americans are seeing the devastating effects of climate change each day. In New Hampshire, it’s hurting our wildlife, including our moose population and fisheries, and it’s influencing our fall foliage and maple production. Tackling this crisis requires swift and meaningful action, which is why I’m proud to introduce the Clean Economy Act with Senator Carper,” said Senator Shaheen. “By directing the EPA to use the tools it already has at its disposal to help create a clean energy economy and reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, our nation can take an important step forward towards achieving climate goals, creating jobs and staying globally competitive.”

“The success of our economy is directly linked to our ability to develop innovative clean energy technologies and avoid the escalating costs of climate change. From addressing the threat of sea level rise, to preventing pollution that could harm the Chesapeake Bay, a plan for a clean economy is crucial to the prosperity of our communities and our country. This legislation provides EPA with important tools to confront carbon pollution change while promoting economic growth. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bill, and I urge the Congress to take action on this issue immediately,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“Our nation can either lead or follow when it comes to tackling climate change, and I want us to lead,” said Senator Smith. “This bill responds to the urgency of the climate crisis with the goal of getting to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  It is supported by labor, environmental, and public health groups who understand that we need to act now and who want to help us build a low-carbon economy that creates jobs as we address this crisis.”

“The climate crisis is already affecting Michigan’s Great Lakes, communities, families, farmers, and businesses,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow. “The Clean Economy Act will put Michigan’s ingenuity to work on solutions that will reduce carbon pollution, create good-paying jobs, and build an economy that benefits everyone.”

“We’re in desperate need of urgent, meaningful action to address the immediate and worsening effects of climate change. If Trump’s EPA won’t do its job to secure our planet’s future, Congress must hold the agency accountable and force it to use its authority to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions drastically by 2050,” Senator Wyden said. “This bill will bring America that much closer to kicking its carbon habit. We cannot afford to ignore the science any longer.”

By providing clear direction from Congress, the Clean Economy Act mandates EPA and other federal agencies to use authorities and tools already available to them to rapidly achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions while fostering a stronger, fairer economy for all Americans.

Any plan developed by the EPA must achieve rapid reductions at minimal costs, prioritize public health, and support a strong labor workforce. EPA is also required to build upon existing state, local and private climate programs and set greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for 2025, 2030 and 2040. Other federal agencies would be required to do their part to help the nation meet the net-zero goal and help enhance America’s global competitiveness through investments in research and development, innovation and equitable access to worker training.

The legislation is supported by:

United Steelworkers

Utility Workers Union of America

Service Employees International Union

American Federation of Teachers

American Rivers

BlueGreen Alliance

Center for American Progress

Clean Water Action

Climate Reality Project

Defend Our Future

Earthjustice

Environment America

Environmental Defense Fund

Green the Church

Hispanic Access Foundation

Interfaith Power & Light

League of Conservation Voters

Moms Clean Air Force

National Wildlife Federation

Natural Resources Defense Council

Sierra Club

Trust for Public Land

Union of Concerned Scientists

Voices for Progress

Wilderness Society

World Wildlife Fund

Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments

American Lung Association

American Public Health Association

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) 

DSM

For full text of the bill, click here. For a summary of the legislation and full list of supporters, click here.

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