‘America Is Back’ Pelosi Says at Glasgow Climate Talks

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was among a group of Democratic lawmakers who traveled with Ms. Pelosi to barnstorm the COP26 climate summit.

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Pelosi Presents ‘Far-Reaching’ Legislation to Fight Climate Change

Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, led a delegation of nearly two dozen Democratic representatives at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow to promote United States plans to combat climate change.

It is a very important meeting for the world. We know that and we come here equipped, ready to take on the challenge, to meet the moment. Our congressional delegation comes here, after advancing, fresh from advancing legislation to build back better — build back better for women — which represents the most ambitious and consequential climate and clean energy legislation of all time. Our legislation is far-reaching in ensuring that future economy is greener and cleaner. That means $250 billion in clean energy tax credits to develop and deploy the latest and future generations of clean power. That means over $100 billion, in addition, for resilience, including climate-smart agriculture and nature-based climate solutions. Another $100 billion toward local and region-led climate solutions, recognizing that women are leading the way. And over $222 billion for environmental justice as part of President Biden’s Justice40 Pledge, long overdue for the health and economic vitality of those who have suffered from pollution and environmental injustice. It advances President Biden’s goal to fulfill our commitments in the Global Methane Pledge and Breakthrough Energy Pledge. In addition to all of this, there’s a whole section of hundreds of billions of dollars for how we can enable everyone to participate in the economic prosperity that will flow from this. Whether it’s universal pre-K and childcare, child tax credit, family and medical leave, which we hope will stay in the bill, the issue that relates to home health care. All of these things enable families, whether it’s dads or mom, but largely moms, to be in the workplace. That’s why we say build back better with women. It has to be different. Let me just now, just say that led by our delegation, the United States Congress is showing the world true climate leadership. We’re proud of our president. He was one of the first people in Congress in 1986 to introduce legislation to address the climate crisis. He takes great pride in that. He’s worked on it ever since, and now in the lead as president of the United States. He knows, as we all do, this is all about the children, leaving a world where they can be healthy, more secure and more in reach of their fulfillment.

Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, led a delegation of nearly two dozen Democratic representatives at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow to promote United States plans to combat climate change.CreditCredit…Robert Perry/EPA, via Shutterstock

Nov. 9, 2021Updated 2:34 p.m. ET

GLASGOW — Speaker Nancy Pelosi and nearly two dozen House Democrats barnstormed global climate talks here on Tuesday, claiming that “America is back” in the effort to slow global warming, even as their party remains divided over a $1.85 trillion budget bill upon which their climate agenda depends.

Ms. Pelosi noted that she was accompanied by a record number of lawmakers attending a U.N. climate summit and said they had flown to Glasgow “ready to take on the challenge, to meet the moment.”

But they haven’t yet.

The stalled legislation includes $555 billion in tax credits and incentives to promote wind and solar power, electric vehicles, climate-friendly agriculture and forestry programs, and a host of other clean-energy programs.

Those measures would bring the country about halfway to Mr. Biden’s goal of cutting the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 52 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Ms. Pelosi said it would be “the most ambitious and consequential climate and clean energy investment of all time.”

She said House lawmakers intended to pass that bill next week, but a handful of moderate Democrats in the House have raised concerns about its price tag. Meanwhile, the legislation has been held up in the Senate largely because of objections of one Democratic senator, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia. Mr. Manchin’s state is a coal and gas producer, he has personal financial ties to the coal industry and has said he opposes policies that would harm fossil fuels.

Ms. Pelosi noted that last week the Congress had approved a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that includes billions of dollars to help fortify communities against the impacts of climate disasters. But the money and policies to cut the emissions that are causing global warming are embedded in the legislation that has yet to pass.

In a series of meetings and speeches, lawmakers said they felt the weight of expectations from the rest of the world.

Of all nations, the United States has pumped the most carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere — pollution that is trapping heat and driving up average global temperatures.

It has also promised to act on climate change only to fall short several times over the past decades. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York Democrat who was among the lawmakers traveling with Ms. Pelosi, said countries should hold the U.S. to account for its promise to significantly reduce emissions from the burning of coal, oil and gas.

“We have to actually deliver to get the respect internationally,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said. “We have to draw down emissions in order to get credit for being committed on climate change.”

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‘Stay in the Streets,’ Ocasio-Cortez Urges Young Climate Activists

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, responded to questions after arriving to the COP26 United Nations climate summit in Glasgow with nearly two dozen House Democrats.

“Three, two, one.” Reporter: “A message for the young people, ma’am?” “Well, I would say stay in the streets and keep pushing. I think one of the things we want to achieve is ensuring that the United States really re-establishes itself as a leader, and drives down our emissions.” “Thank you so much.” “And to encourage our partners to do the same.”

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, responded to questions after arriving to the COP26 United Nations climate summit in Glasgow with nearly two dozen House Democrats.CreditCredit…Alberto Pezzali/Associated Press

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, was surrounded by security as she walked the cavernous tented hallways of the summit, quickly drawing the attention of a crowd of activists who wore masks declaring themselves “climate feminists.”

Representative Sean Casten, Democrat of Illinois, said Congress had been making “excuses” for inaction on climate change ever since the Clinton administration accepted the world’s first global climate treaty, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, only to see the Senate fail to ratify it.

“The rest of the world is sitting there and saying, ‘We’ve heard this story before. Your words are beautiful but we’re watching your feet,'” Mr. Casten said, adding, “All of us are going to be furious if the Senate drops the ball,” on the $1.85 trillion package.

There is an outsized level of attention in Glasgow to political machinations over the legislation pending in Washington. One activist on Tuesday who followed Ms. Ocasio-Cortez through the halls at the summit, Pamela Elizarraras, 24, from Mexico, said it had been frustrating to watch the climate legislation flounder.

“They have so much power,” Ms. Elizarraras said of the United States, adding, “It’s really important for them to really step it up.”

An earlier wave of lawmakers traveled to Glasgow last week to make a similar argument that the United States was back in the climate fight, after four years of global disengagement under the Trump administration.

That group was heavily Democratic but included a handful of Republican House members and a lone Republican Senator, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

The Republicans said they may disagree with Mr. Biden’s policies but they were concerned about climate change, even if they did not support a move away from fossil fuels, which scientists say is needed to avert climate catastrophe. “Republicans care deeply about this earth,” Representative John Curtis, Republican of Utah, said.

“We may not have learned how to talk about it,” he said, “but I promise you we care and we’re serious about being part of the solution.”

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Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, right, with Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, at the summit.Credit…Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

Other Republican attendees in Glasgow included Representatives Dan Crenshaw of Texas; Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa; and representatives from conservative groups.

Ms. Murkowski, in an interview, said she, like other Republicans, did not intend to vote for the $1.85 trillion bill that contains the president’s climate agenda. But she said she did not object to clean-energy tax credits, calling them a “safe zone” of climate policy.

The presence of Republicans was a shift from 12 years ago when Senator James Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, traveled solo to a U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen to object to climate science and declare “there’s not a chance in the world” America will pass legislation to tackle global warming.

Senator Brian Schatz, Democrat of Hawaii, said at the summit he has been encouraged by the number of Republican lawmakers who are willing to discuss serious climate policy. The bottom line, though, is that United States needs to reduce the use of fossil fuels, he said.

“If you don’t agree on that, then you’re playing word games,” Mr. Schatz said.

President Biden has made climate action central to his presidency. If the pending legislation passes, analysts say, it will get the United States about halfway to the president’s targets. The rest will depend on a combination of things that are outside of Mr. Biden’s control, like the markets and regulations that could be overturned by the courts or reversed by a future administration

Michael S. Regan, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, said in an interview Tuesday that he would announce before the end of the year a”suite” of new policies to draw down emissions from electric utilities. After transportation, the power sector is the second-largest source of emissions in the United States.

The Supreme Court is poised to weigh whether the E.P.A. has the authority to regulate the emissions of greenhouse gases. The decision from the conservative-leaning court could deliver a blow to the agency’s ability to tackle climate change. Mr. Regan said he was not planning to wait for a ruling before issuing new power plant regulations.

“We have pens to paper right now,” he said.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said the United States and other developed nations must take even greater action on global warming.

“We’re here to push,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said. “It’s time for us to re-examine our first-world and global governments, to re-examine their priorities about what is possible, and really try to push them on the boundaries of that.”

She credited activists with pressuring the Biden administration to be more ambitious on climate change and talked about her own role protesting the development of gas pipelines in places like Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in South Dakota.

Tuesday was “gender day” at the summit, and Ms. Pelosi noted that women faced particular dangers in a warming world. Climate change “is the existential threat of our time,” she said. “It’s a threat multiplier that amplifies and accelerates existing inequities. Eighty percent of people displaced by climate change globally are women.”

Outside the climate summit the streets of Glasgow have been filled with protesters, many of them young women. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said she hoped to spend some time with the activists while in Glasgow and thinks their presence has kept the pressure on the decision makers.

And she had a message for them: “Stay in the streets, and keep pushing,” she said with a wink.

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