Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

House Democrats' new climate blueprint may be a wish list, but for now it has succeeded in one big respect: Avoiding a major flare-up of intra-left tensions over policy.

Driving the news: A lot of groups cheered the nearly 550-page plan yesterday, while criticisms from the left flank of the green movement were real but rather muted.

  • "The House Democrats' climate plan is more ambitious than what we’ve seen from Democratic leadership to date — and that is in no small part a testament to the ever-expanding climate movement who have demanded a Green New Deal," said 350.org's Natalie Mebane.
  • Still, she urged Democrats to "go even further and put forward a plan at the scale of the climate crisis."

What they're saying: For one look at where the left is, check out this new blog post from Julian Brave NoiseCat of the think tank Data for Progress.

  • He argues the "zeitgeist has changed" in Democratic climate politics, citing a leftward move and also notes the plan's emphasis on environmental justice.
  • "As someone who stumbled into the climate fight before it was cool, I can’t help but read the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis report — even the parts I disagree with — as a sort of small, wonky victory," he writes.

Yes, but: In one sign of how tricky climate politics are, yesterday AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka offered a mix of praise and warning shots.

  • "There are concerns for our unions in these recommendations, including some of the tax provisions and timetables for emissions reductions and technological mandates," he said in a statement.

The big picture: There's nothing remotely resembling a clear path for enacting most of the big proposals, which in sum are vastly more aggressive than any climate policy seriously considered in the United States.

  • The report, at least the big-ticket pieces requiring legislation, is best viewed as a menu of options for Democrats if — if! — they regain control of the White House and the Senate.
  • And even then, it would depend on how much they could cram through the Senate's budget reconciliation process (which offers a rare chance to move bills without a supermajority), and the party's uncertain appetite to scrap filibuster rules.
  • And also keep in mind that creating legislation opens up endless avenues for conflict that a set of policy recommendations — even a super-duper-detailed one — paper over.

What's next: This morning a spokesperson for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called it a "serious report on how to tackle the climate crisis."

  • "You will see a similar report from Senate Democrats in July, and if we take the majority, one of the first things we will put on the floor will be a big, bold climate bill," Justin Goodman said.

What we don't know: Readers, please correct me if I'm missing it, but I haven't seen reactions from moderate Senate Democrats, who would have huge sway if the party gains a majority in the chamber.

  • An aide to Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the top Democrat on the chamber's energy panel, did not respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Sep 19, 2020 - Politics & Policy

The new politics of global warming

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Getty Images photos: Ethan Miller and Chip Somodevilla

The 2020 election is both very different and very familiar when it comes to the politics of global warming and the stakes of the outcome.

What's new: Democratic voters are more concerned than in prior presidential cycles, polling shows.

Schumer: "Nothing is off the table" if GOP moves to fill Ginsburg's seat

Sen. Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told congressional Democrats on a conference call Saturday that "nothing is off the table next year" if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Republican allies move to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Supreme Court seat in the coming weeks.

Why it matters: Schumer's comments come amid calls from fellow Democrats to expand the number of judges on the Supreme Court if President Trump and Senate Republicans move to fill the newly empty seat next time the party holds a majority in the Senate.

Amy Harder, author of Generate
Sep 19, 2020 - Energy & Environment
Column / Harder Line

Big Tech takes the climate change lead

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Getty Images photo: Jit Chattopadhyay/Pacific Press/LightRocket

The tech industry is playing a growing role in fighting climate change, from zero-carbon commitments to investments in startups and pushing for the use of data to encourage energy efficiency.

Why it matters: Big Tech is already dominating our economy, politics and culture. Its leadership in helping to address climate change — and reckon with its role in contributing to it — could have similarly transformative impacts.