The climate change bill —what is it?

by Lila Sakata

Government decisions are key to enacting change in countries from Africa to Asia. This is also the case for the climate crisis1—the government develops climate change laws that can help the country tackle environmental issues. A climate change bill is a soon-to-be law drafted by the United States’ Congress for this purpose; and they have developed several in the last few years2.

Previous climate change policy initiatives

The scope of the initiatives taken by the US government in terms of environmental protection legislation vary depending on the president. Under Barrack Obama’s presidency, opponents to his climate legislation proposals prevented the making of large changes. For example, a cap-and-trade policy bill failed to be approved by the Senate and House of Representatives in 2010. The bill would have helped dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the country3. However, despite some failures, Obama managed to successfully develop policies against climate change4. Unfortunately, Donald Trump worked to dismantle them during his presidency5. The revoked climate change policies were namely a Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, an executive order on climate change, a law for water protection and the role of the US in the Paris Agreement6.

However, since 2018, there have been some developments on climate policy in the US7.

Some recent climate change bills and policies

In the past two years, there have been notable initiatives in law-making for the climate:

  • The Green New Deal in 2018 fuelled debates and received considerable media coverage. Though not containing precise details on how to specifically make it work, it first proposed a plan to fight climate change and social inequalities8. This would be done by developing renewable energy, free education and healthcare, developing environment and public works9, among other measures. It is now being broken down into smaller bills to be voted on by the Congress10.
  • The Climate Action Now Act is a bill on climate change passed by the House in March 2019. This bill looks to hold the country accountable to its promises outlined in the Paris Agreement. However, it may not be approved by the Congress11.
  • The HR Energy Standard is an energy policy proposal developed in 2019 looking to push for more clean energy innovation to protect natural resources and use fewer fossil fuels such as natural gas.12

If new bills in favour of climate action become laws, the renewed interest in climate change shown by the US Congress2 could lead the country into a greener path and into meeting climate targets in the near future.


1 The pressure to make the post-covid rebound green. The Economist. 2020 May 1.

2 Congress Climate History. Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.

3 Davis JH, Landler M, Davenport C. Obama on Climate Change: The Trends are “Terrifying”. The New York Times. 2016 Sept 8.

4 McCarthy J. 7 Ways Obama Helped Protect the Planet From Climate Change. Global Citizen. 2017 Jan 18.

5 Kann D. Trump’s rollback of climate change regulations will be felt far beyond his presidency. CNN Politics. 2019 Sept 4.

6 Park M. 6 Obama climate policies that Trump orders change. CNN Politics. 2017 March 27.

7 Roberts D. At last, a climate policy platform that can unite the left. Vox. 2020 May 27.

8 Roberts D. The Green New Deal, explained. Vox. 2019 Dec 21.

9 Holden E. What is the Green New Deal and how would it benefit society? The Guardian. 2019 Feb 11.

10 Green M. Democrats to move on from Green New Deal. The Hill. 2019 Mar 28.

11 Irfan U. The House just passed its first climate bill in a decade. Vox. 2019 Mar 27.

12 H.R.2597 – Clean Energy Standard Act of 2019. Congress.GOV.

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