“‘… [W]hen we say that the United States is back, it’s not just that we’re back in the way that the United States was pursuing climate policy before. It is different.’”
— Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday lauded a renewed leadership position for the U.S. at global climate-change negotiations.
But the New York Democrat also found herself defending to participants in Glasgow her and fellow U.S. lawmakers’ efforts to pass domestic environmental policy that has been churning in a legislative process that won’t rule out oil
and gas interests and trade concerns.
“America is back at COP, on the international stage as a leader on climate action,” the 2019 Green New Deal co-author said at an event alongside other Democratic lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “One thing that I think is so exciting about this time is that when we say that the United States is back, it’s not just that we’re back in the way that the United States was pursuing climate policy before,” she added. “It is different.”
Her Green New Deal found little traction in a then-Republican controlled Congress and Trump White House.
“I think what we saw throughout the uprisings during the Trump era, through the increased sophistication and mobilization of climate grassroots, was an alternative path, an alternative framework for how we can pursue climate justice,” said Ocasio-Cortez, a recognizable figure on the ground in Glasgow and surrounded by public crowds, supporters and event protestors, the New York Times reported.
President Trump pulled the U.S. from the voluntary Paris climate pact meant to slow global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, set in 2015. That pact is now meant to attract firmer commitments in Glasgow. President Biden returned the U.S. to the Paris deal on his first day in the White House.
Republican lawmakers were also on hand in Glasgow, including Reps. Garret Graves, of Louisiana, and John Curtis, of Utah, who traveled with center-right policy group Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES). Curtis is founder of the Conservative Climate Caucus, which has over 60 members. He was interviewed by Yahoo News on his objectives for the conference, stressing his reluctance to have the U.S. shoulder emissions-cutting responsibility when other nations, including China, must stand up as well.
Ten years ago, Ocasio-Cortez said, “the most ambitious thing we were talking about was maybe cap-and-trade [of carbon emissions credits] and carbon taxes, which is not to give short shrift to those proposals, but to say that was almost the extent, that was the height of our ambition.”
Since then, she said, the terms of understanding for how to fight climate change have shifted. “We can’t actually just pursue decarbonization. It has to center a benefit for the working class, for the vulnerable, for frontline communities, people of color, women, underserved communities, and it has to have a justice and jobs focus in order for us to meet our emissions goals,” she said. “That’s what’s going to make it politically popular.”
Back home, Ocasio-Cortez and fellow Democrats have had to pare back their legislative climate-change ambitions. A pending budget reconciliation bill known as Build Back Better does still include what many feel is a still-robust $555 billion in tax credits and incentives to promote wind and solar power, electric vehicles, climate-minded agriculture and forestry programs, and other clean energy programs.
Legislative uncertainty isn’t the only domestic distraction for Ocasio-Cortez. She replied from abroad to a social-media flurry around a shared video from fellow lawmaker, Rep. Paul Gosar, Republican of Arizona, a frequent critic of AOC, as she is known on social media and elsewhere.
Gosar’s posted anime, which Twitter banned from sharing because the company said it violated its ethics rules, imagines the assassination of Ocasio-Cortez.