Today, the U.S. Senate reached a deal on a stimulus package that includes $50 billion in loans and grants to airlines, but leaves out language that would have required airlines — which emit as much climate pollution as the entire German economy annually — to limit harmful emissions from domestic flights.
“As our country faces the onslaught of the coronavirus, we need quick action to protect our health and economy. But Congress must ensure that federal assistance to companies does not make the climate crisis worse for our children by increasing pollution. Unfortunately, big businesses and their defenders in Congress defeated an effort to invest in a cleaner, safer world by reducing pollution from airlines.
“Taxpayers, many of whom are now struggling financially, have the right to expect responsible behavior by companies in exchange for these bailouts. Instead, taxpayers will pay twice — once now to the airline companies, and later in the form of tens of billions of dollars in additional damages from climate change.
“If there’s a bright spot, it’s that while the requirements to reduce climate pollution ultimately did not make it into the bill, they were a top priority of leading Members of Congress. That is a testament to the growing chorus of concerned citizens and voters who have made clear that the climate crisis must be a top priority for our government.
“Despite rising public awareness and the warning of scientists, our government has failed to take strong action on climate change. It is a repeat of the mistakes that led to the worsening coronavirus pandemic. It’s time our leaders followed facts, listened to scientists, and took action on the dangers that confront our economy and society. In the coming weeks, as Congress continues to respond to the current health crisis, it must do so in a way that also protects the next generation from the unfolding climate crisis.”
- Elizabeth Gore is Senior Vice President of Environmental Defense Fund
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