An Integrated US Climate Policy, Will Wishing Make It So?

Joel B. Stronberg
5 min readSep 28, 2021
Photo courtesy of Andy Feliciotti and Unsplash

Hobson’s Choice: the necessity of accepting one of two or more equally objectionable alternatives.

If for no other reason than peace of mind, it is critical for climate champions to remind themselves periodically that as overwhelming as Earth’s warming is in its many consequences — fires, floods, and pestilence — we are NOT powerless to do something about it.

Quite the contrary, there are serviceable answers not only for adapting and making our built environment healthier and more resilient to the dangers we face but also for slowing the rate of warming.

The next few weeks will see whether President Biden and the progressive Democrats in Congress can overcome the resistance of their conservative colleagues like Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). Both senators are opposed to the $3.5 trillion price tag on the reconciliation bill. Moreover, they appear to have reservations about the breadth and depth of Biden’s proposed climate plans.

It’s unlikely that the President’s proposals going into the negotiations will be the same coming out — assuming they manage to come out at all. How they are changed will determine whether the nation can meet the 80 percent clean energy goal by 2030, net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from the electric power sector by 2035, and net-zero emissions economy-wide by 2050.

There are mounting tensions between progressive and conservative Demo-crats in both the House and Senate — with each side threatening to torpedo either or both the reconciliation and infrastructure bills. At least 50 of the 100 members in the House Progressive Caucus and a dozen or so Blue Dog conservatives appear willing to play congressional chicken.

Each is waiting — even expecting the other to steer away to avoid what would be a catastrophic clash for them and the nation. They know there’s little to be gained by a collision. There are those times, however, when emotions become the enemy of the good.

Because of the Democrat’s poor showing in the 2020 elections, both the Democratic factions punch at about the same weight. Speaker Pelosi is work-ing with a three-vote margin — slim enough for either side to make good on their threats.

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Joel B. Stronberg

Stronberg is a thought leader in the climate community with over 40 years of experience covering environmental and sustainability issues as a freelancer.