On Thursday, House Democrats voted to pass the Climate Action Now Act – a piece of legislation designed to revive the US' commitment to the goals of the Paris Agreement. Three Republicans sided with the Democrats, resulting in a 231-190 victory for those in favor of the bill.
In 2017, Trump signed a withdrawal bill rescinding US obligations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent or more on 2005 levels by 2025. But if this bill is signed into law, it would force Trump to adhere to the targets and block any funds needed to take the US out of the agreement.
Of course, disappointingly, the likelihood of that happening is close to null. The passage of the bill seems to be largely symbolic. The chances of it passing a Republican-controlled Senate are slim. The chances of Trump signing it into law even more so. Already, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has undermined the bill, calling it "political theater" and all but promising that it will not make it through the Senate.
Still, significantly, it is the very first time the House of Representatives has passed a climate-change bill in 10 years, symbolizing a renewed prioritization of climate issues – at least among those in the Democratic Party. The last climate change bill to achieve victory involved a cap-and-trade system to limit overall emissions and was passed in 2009. But it never made it through the Senate.
"Today we sent a message to the President, to the American people and to the world that we recognize the seriousness of the climate crisis, and that we intend to do our part to address it," said Rep. Frank Pallone, a Democrat from New Jersey and the chair of the House energy committee, Reuters reports.
"Today we sent the message: We are still in."
Rep. Kathy Castor, a Democrat from Florida and the chair of the Select Committee on Climate Crisis as well as lead sponsor of the bill, called it a "patriotic vote", according to BuzzFeed News.
"It’s the same as the Green New Deal: aspirational," Rep. Raúl Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona and the chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, added, The Hill reports.
"I think you have to make some clear distinctions about how this House majority stands and where the Senate and where the President stand. I think those distinctions have to be made, whether it goes anywhere or not."
It is just the latest in a string of policies, pledges, and promises from those in the Democratic Party to make climate change a top priority in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential elections. From Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal to Rep. Beto O’Rourke's ambitious new climate strategy, the climate change problem is finally taking a front seat.