Many elements of federal policy evolve over time. Taxes rise and fall, as does spending on poverty programs and the military. If a set of policies doesn’t pass one year, it could pass in a future year, and the long-term trajectory of the United States is unlikely to be affected much.
Climate policy is different.
The world has already warmed to dangerous levels. Heat waves, wildfires, droughts and severe storms have become more common. The Arctic is melting and the seas are rising. If countries don’t act quickly to slow their greenhouse gas emissions – and, by extension, slow global warming – the damage could be catastrophic, scientists have warned.
The United States has a particularly important role in the fight against climate change. It has produced far more greenhouse gases throughout history than any other country and remains one of the top emitters today. In recent years, the United States has done far less to reduce emissions than Europe. The United States also remains the most powerful country in the world, with the ability to influence climate policy in China, India and elsewhere.
Until yesterday, the Democratic Party looked set to squander a major opportunity to fight climate change. Democrats control both Congress and the presidency, yet they had been unable to agree on a package of climate policies to accelerate the use of clean energy and reduce emissions. Sen. Joe Manchin had blocked any deal, and the Senate is so tightly divided that Democrats can’t afford to lose a single vote.
Yesterday, however, Manchin seemed to change his mind. He announced that he had agreed to include hundreds of billions of dollars for climate and energy programs in a bill that would also lower prescription drug prices, raise taxes on the wealthy and reduce the federal deficit.
If Manchin and the other Democrats stick together, that would be a really big deal. “This has the opportunity to be a huge breakthrough for climate progress,” Sam Ricketts, co-founder of Evergreen Action, an environmental group, told The Times.
This is especially important because Republicans in Congress have almost uniformly opposed policies aimed at slowing climate change (unlike conservatives in many other countries). And it remains unclear whether Democrats will control both Congress and the White House again anytime soon. If Congress fails to pass a climate bill this summer, it may not do so for years as the ravages of climate change deepen.
After all the recent wrangling among Democrats, I know a lot of people remain skeptical about getting a deal until Congress has passed a bill. This skepticism makes sense. The agreement announced last night between Manchin and Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, is different from a comprehensive bill that can pass both the Senate and the House.
But I would say this: If this tentative agreement leads to legislation, it will likely have more lasting significance than anything President Biden signs in his first two years in office.
Lives Lived: Tony Dow rose to fame at a young age as Wally Cleaver in the 1950s sitcom “Leave It to Beaver.” He was initially unhappy with how the role pigeonholed him, but said that changed with age: “At 40, I realized how great the show was.” He died at age 77.
SPORTS NEWS FROM ATHLETIC
A swipe and a swap: The Mets completed a two-game sweep against the Yankees yesterday, but just minutes after the Finals, the Bronx Bombers traded for Andrew Benintendi, one of the best sticks out there.
DK Metcalf “hold on”: The Seahawks wide receiver attended practice Wednesday but declined to participate while the team worked on a new contract for him.
Rare condition of Mike Trout: The superstar Angels outfielder is battling a rare back condition, a team coach has said. There is no timeline for his return to the roster, although Trout said he plans to play again this season.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Have you seen this boot?
The producers of the Broadway revival of “Into the Woods” are on the hunt for a special prop: a huge inflatable boot suspended above the facade of the theater in the 1980s. The boot returned for the revival of the broadcast in 2002, but was hidden when the weather deteriorated. Now no one knows where he is, writes James Barron.
“It was literally the beacon that called us all to the theater,” producer Jordan Roth said. “I think the reason it captured our imaginations was how it really materialized that show’s impossible balance of whimsy and weight.”
Some suspect he was cut into pieces. Others say the producers just didn’t look in the right place. “It’s in storage,” said Michael David, the original series’ executive producer. “I just don’t know where in storage.”
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to cook