Who Is the World’s Greatest Climate Champion?

Cover climate nowThis column is part of Cover climate now, a global journalism collaboration co-founded by Columbia Journalism Review and The nation to strengthen reporting on climate history. The author is the co-founder and CEO of CCNow.

GLasgow, S.cotland“It is an article of faith in US political and media circles that American leadership is essential to global climate advancement repeated Tuesday At the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26 as Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and a delegation of 16 Democrats in Congress congratulated themselves and US President Joe Biden on the “Build Back Better” climate legislation they are trying to pass in the United States Congress.

Regardless, the United States, among Democrats and Republicans, has been arguably the biggest obstacle to global climate action since the 1992 Earth Summit, which started negotiations, the final installment of which is now taking place in Glasgow. Former President Donald Trump’s exit from the 2015 Paris Agreement is just the most obvious recent example of this obstructionism. In fact, the main reason that the Paris Agreement, signed under President Barack Obama, is just an agreement, not a legally binding treaty, is that at the time – Secretary of State John Kerry and his international counterparts knew full well that the U.S. Senate would never ratify a treaty that Countries are obliged to keep the global temperature rise “well below” 2 degrees Celsius. During George W. Bush’s eight-year tenure in the White House, the United States was even more hostile to climate change. And in 1997, when the world’s governments approved the Kyoto Protocol, the Bill Clinton administration didn’t bother to bring it to the Senate because, according to then-Vice President Al Gore, probably not even 10 senators would approve it.

But American exceptionalism is a tough animal, as journalists in Glasgow witnessed Tuesday afternoon.

“Led by our delegation, the United States Congress is showing the world true climate leadership,” Pelosi boasted at a press conference that included more speeches than exchanges with reporters. In particular, when Pelosi introduced each member of Congress by name and asked them to applaud themselves, MP Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did not join the applause. Pelosi praised the $ 250 billion the Build Back Better draft budget for “clean energy tax credits” and its $ 222 billion for “environmental justice.” She praised the US $ 150 billion bill for “climate-friendly agriculture and nature-based climate solutions”. She highlighted the hundreds of billions of dollars in family medical leave, universal pre-K, and other welfare programs that will allow everyone to share in the economic prosperity that will result from this bill – because, she added, “this is” everything takes care of the children and leaves them a world in which they can be healthier and safer. ”

By the time the speaker invited the chairs of the foreign affairs, science and technology, natural resources, and other committees to speak, and they had thanked Pelosi for their guidance, claiming that the Build Back Better Act put the U.S. on the right way To limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, there was only time for two questions from reporters.

The first asked if Pelosi still intended the House to pass the Build Back Better Act the week of November 15th. The spokeswoman confirmed this. The second question was rather less predictable. After Pelosi said, “I want a woman,” a reference to a panel discussion on gender equality, Pelosi got a question from Abby Martin at The empire files.

“Spokesman Pelosi, you have just led a large increase in the Pentagon budget,” said Martin. Pointing out that the Pentagon budget is “already massive” and “the Pentagon is a bigger polluter than 140 countries put together”, Martin Pelosi asked: “How can we possibly talk about net zero when there is this bipartisan consensus, to constantly expand this large contributor? on climate change? ”

Seasoned politicians are adept at not answering questions they don’t want to answer. Pelosi asked John Pallone, Chair of the Energy and Trade Committee, to respond. He said the military knows that climate change is a national security problem, “so I don’t see … increasing the defense budget as something incompatible with climate change.” Pelosi also avoided the subject of the Pentagon’s generous budget, adding added that reducing the use of fossil fuels by the military would help to “stop” climate change, so “this is something we are very focused on”.

And then it was time to finish. Conference organizers, Pelosi explained, “are telling us it’s time to clean the room.”

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