Amidst a summer of dispiriting climate change news, the passage of the Growing Climate Solutions Act through the U.S. Senate provided a much-needed glimmer of hope. With a 92-8 vote, the bill passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support. This bill supports ranchers, farmers, and forestry owners by providing payments for climate friendly practices. This is an example of the leadership we need to facilitate making significant federal changes that increase climate resiliency and result in impactful emission reductions.
Surprisingly, Sens. Bernie Sanders I-VT, Elizabeth Warren D-Mas, and a few others opposed the bill, claiming the act distracts from efforts to reduce fossil fuel emissions. Hopefully, this was political theatre and the Senators would have voted yes had the bill had a chance of failure. It is dangerous to combine the forces of those who don’t believe we are doing enough and those who don’t believe in climate change. Inaction will doom us all. The recent IPCC report noted we will hit 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming by 2040 and even if all emissions are halted today, the Earth will warm for another 30 years. Now is the time to support all mitigation measures, regardless of the magnitude of the impact and beyond reducing fossil fuel emissions.
Agricultural greenhouse gas emissions account for 10% of total United States emissions according to the EPA. The Growing Climate Solutions Act can help to reduce these emissions but also support agricultural solutions to enhance carbon sequestration and engage rural America in the fight against climate change. To be against this legislation claiming that it distracts from fossil fuels is short-sighted. As takeaways from the IPCC report showed- we need to stop emissions and pull greenhouse gasses out of the atmosphere while promoting climate adaptions for the most vulnerable using all the tools we have available. Right now, the bill is stalled in the House of Representatives by both sides of the aisle. Let’s hope this is not another example of failed climate action by the federal government.
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