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Greenpeace USA Submission to the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis

June 16, 2020

Greenpeace urges Congress to enact a managed phaseout of fossil fuel production and pass a Green New Deal

© Tim Aubry / Greenpeace

In November 2019, Greenpeace USA submitted these recommendations to the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

Read the full submission here.

Introduction

Greenpeace USA appreciates the opportunity to inform the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis’s recommendations for comprehensive, ambitious, and equitable legislation to address the climate crisis.

The climate crisis is here. At 1.0°C of warming, wildfires, storms, etc. are putting millions of people’s lives and livelihoods under threat — including across the U.S., from Houston to Iowa to California. Indigenous communities, communities of color, low-wealth families, and other vulnerable and marginalized communities are disproportionately affected. Limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C, as articulated in the Paris Agreement goals and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is critical to protect communities and ecosystems around the world, enhance justice and prosperity for all people, and provide a greater chance of avoiding potentially catastrophic and irreversible “tipping points” in the global climate system. In addition, numerous current and former U.S. officials have called for action on the climate crisis to maintain a “healthy, stable economy” and protect U.S. national security.

The scale of the climate crisis demands just, inclusive, and transformative action from Congress — a Green New Deal. Not only is a just and inclusive Green New Deal imperative to stave off the worst impacts of the climate crisis, it will also afford Congress an historic opportunity to address the interlocking crises of climate change, economic inequality, and racial and environmental injustices affecting millions of Americans and bring the U.S. into a green and prosperous 21st Century future — while establishing U.S. leadership on the world stage in responding to the threat of the climate emergency.

Greenpeace USA urges Congress to enact a Green New Deal that will mobilize the federal government and U.S. economy to:

  1. Rapidly reduce U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 50% by 2030 and to near-zero well before 2050, in line with the U.S.’s “fair share” of global GHG emission reductions required to limit warming to 1.5°C;
  2. Invest in 100% renewable energy and low-carbon, climate-resilient infrastructure for the 21st Century;
  3. Transform the U.S. from an extractive economy to a regenerative and inclusive one;
  4. Create millions of family-sustaining, union jobs; and
  5. Prioritize justice, equity, and self-determination for workers and frontline and Indigenous communities in the transition away from fossil fuels.

Furthermore, in order to maximize the benefits of a Green New Deal, Greenpeace USA urges Congress to enact legislation to halt expansion and facilitate a managed phaseout of coal, oil, and gas production that prioritizes vulnerable workers, families, and communities, including communities of color and low-wealth communities, in the transition to a regenerative, 100% renewable economy.

Existing coal, oil, and gas mines and fields (“developed reserves”) already contain enough potential CO2 emissions to push the world beyond 1.5°C of warming. Yet, rather than halting new fossil fuel development and transitioning to alternative sources of energy, fossil fuel companies are investing more than $1 trillion in North America alone in new wells, mines, pipelines, and other fossil fuel infrastructure projects — a reckless expansion of fossil fuel production that is incompatible with meeting climate goals under the Paris Agreement.

This planned fossil fuel expansion risks “locking in” new coal, oil, and gas infrastructure that could commit us to climate chaos, economic chaos, or both. On the other hand, taking action now to constrain and wind down U.S. fossil fuel production (so-called “supply-side” climate policy approaches) will provide a better chance at meeting the Paris Agreement goals and maximize the climate, economic, and social benefits of U.S. “demand-side” efforts to transition to 100% clean energy and decarbonize end-use sectors of the economy.

As part of a Green New Deal, Congress must take swift action to:

  1. Halt U.S. fossil fuel expansion, including by eliminating U.S. federal support for fossil fuel production, and leverage U.S. global leadership to end fossil fuel expansion worldwide;
  2. Manage the phaseout of existing fossil fuel production and infrastructure consistent with emission reduction and clean energy deployment trajectories to limit warming to 1.5°C; and
  3. Prioritize federal investments in a justice-based transition for workers and communities in fossil fuel and other emissions-intensive industries and at the frontlines of climate disasters and toxic pollution.

In the following sections, we further lay out the imperatives — grounded in the latest climate science, economic modeling, and principles for racial, economic, and environmental justice — for Congress to secure a managed phaseout of fossil fuel production and empower historically disadvantaged workers and communities in transition under a Green New Deal, and lay out detailed policy recommendations for Congress to achieve these aims.

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