"Climate Day" should be every day
A new database to keep track of lawmakers’ climate positions can help keep the pressure on.
Someone—I don’t know who—has decided today is “Climate Day.”
The rationale makes sense. President Biden is doing a bunch of different “days” this week, each with their own theme and corresponding set of executive actions (immigration, economic recovery, etc). This afternoon, the White House is expected to release a bunch of climate-related executive orders, including a pause on new fossil fuel development on public lands and waterways.
So yeah. It’s “Climate Day!” A special 24 hours for the niche issue of survival.
I’m just being a jerk. I know the climate will be getting more than just one day of attention from the Biden administration. It’s really just a small annoyance. The new White House has already demonstrated an understanding that climate change is not a single-issue on par with education, healthcare, economic recovery or immigration; but rather an overwhelming challenge that encompasses each one of those single issues, and requires a strategic, integrated approach. Making a special “day” for climate alongside other single issues just seems to reinforce the falsehood that the planet’s continued livability is some kind of special interest.
In any case, there’s a lot going on today, and I’ll give you a news dump about it after the jump.
But first, I want to tell you about a new tool released today—and shared exclusively with HEATED—that can help us make sure every member of Congress is treating climate change with the urgency it deserves, every day.
A new database to keep track of lawmakers’ climate records
It’s called the 117th Congress Climate Scorecard. Released by Vote Climate US PAC, it’s sort of like the League of Conservation Voters’ scorecard for lawmakers—except instead of all general environment-related votes, it tracks votes on climate-related bills. So it’s a more accurate representation of the climate-friendliness of each member of Congress
The scorecard doesn’t just track votes, though. It scores lawmakers on their stated positions on climate change; on leadership roles they’ve taken on the issue; and their position on a carbon price. (When you get there, you can click on the green plus signs next to each lawmaker’s name to see details on their individual positions).
The scoring itself is thus perhaps a bit subjective. After all, there are many strong climate advocates in Congress who are lukewarm on a price on carbon—and some folks would probably not agree that makes them deserving of a lower score. Senator Bernie Sanders, for example, scores a 100 on every category except a carbon price, where he has a 75. Here’s the section from the database explaining why:
It’s also unclear who funds Vote Climate US PAC, and thus the scoring effort. Karyn Strickler, the PAC’s president, told Vox last year that the project is “not funded by any billionaires, but ‘a few small funders who care’ but did not say whom.”
Whether you agree with the scoring or not, though, the database contains—excuse my French—a proverbial buttload of detailed climate-related information on each member of Congress. And that means it has the potential to be incredibly useful for reporters, activists, organizers, or regular citizens looking to hold lawmakers accountable on climate change.
Here’s a quote from Strickler on how the guide might be used:
When citizens lobby their elected officials on climate change, they can use our Vote Climate U.S. PAC 117th Congress Climate Scorecard to understand where every member of Congress stands and whether they are supporters, opponents or swing votes. Americans can consult our Scorecard prior to town hall meetings to know whether to thank elected officials, persuade them to improve their position, be a better leader, vote climate, or support a fee on carbon pollution. Climate change organizations can use our scorecard in their lobbying and organizing efforts. The media can use it in their stories, for an instant view of climate change stances.
All this is incredibly important now, as we head into the most important two years for climate legislation in our lifetimes. Democrats may control the House, Senate, and presidency, but that is far from a guarantee than anything truly meaningful and sustainable will be signed into law.
It’s going to take, in other words, a lot more than a few executive orders—and a lot more than one “Climate Day.”
Now here’s a news dump.
Climate Day, hip hip hooray
The Battle Lines Are Forming in Biden’s Climate Push. If you only have time to read one thing on Biden’s climate actions today, one good option is this analysis piece from the ever-dynamic New York Times climate reporting duo that is Coral Davenport and Lisa Friedman. It summarizes all the coming actions and is immensely helpful in summarizing the fight ahead for climate legislation (in other words, it talks a lot about Joe Manchin).
Biden to place environmental justice at center of sweeping climate plan. This is another good option for the one piece on Biden’s climate actions you should read. From Juliet Eilperin, Brady Dennis and Darryl Fears at the Washington Post: “President Biden will make tackling America’s persistent racial and economic disparities a central part of his plan to combat climate change, prioritizing environmental justice for the first time in a generation.” Lots of details within.
Conservative-leaning media is covering Climate Day by placing an emphasis on the fossil fuel industry. The Wall Street Journal’s headline focuses on Biden’s policy “targeting the oil industry.” At Fox Business, the headline focuses on fossil fuel subsidies, and the text uses a lot of quotation marks to avoid implying that any of the actions might be beneficial.
Read the White House’s fact sheet on today’s executive actions. It clocks in at 1,995 words, or about a 7 minute read.
Catch of the Day:
For HEATED readers, every day is “Climate Day.” For Fish, every day is “Climb onto the couch and try to eat Emily’s food” day.
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Stay hydrated, eat plants, break a sweat, and have a great day!