The U.S. Congress plays a key role in determining how the United States responds to the challenge of global climate change. Legislation, enacted by Congress, will be necessary to reduce U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases substantially. International climate change agreements must be ratified by the U.S. Senate for the United States to be a party, giving the Senate major influence over the U.S. negotiating position. The budgets of all federal agencies, which include funding for programs to curb U.S. emissions, are established in the agencies' annual spending (or "appropriations") bills, enacted by Congress. Congress conducts hearings that focus attention on global climate change and shape the national debate over how best to address it. Moreover, with climate change, as with other issues, congressional action can differ significantly from that preferred by the U.S. President.
As the scientific evidence of climate change has mounted, so has congressional activity. The number of climate change-related legislative proposals increased from seven introduced in the 105th Congress (1997-1998) to 25 in the 106th Congress (1999-2000). So far in the 107th Congress (2001-2002), over 75 bills, resolutions, and amendments addressing climate change in some way have been introduced. As of October 2002, 38 of these legislative proposals have been the subject of some sort of congressional action - such as a vote by a committee, the full Senate or the full House of Representatives.
In the course of considering this legislation, the climate change issue has been raised dozens of times during debate and discussed in over thirty congressional hearings. Climate change measures are increasingly being offered by members of both the Democratic and Republican Parties (to which all but a few members of Congress belong).
The growing interest suggests that a bipartisan consensus could develop in the around certain legislative proposals, including measures to require the reporting and disclosure of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, protect companies reducing GHG emissions from being penalized under a future GHG reduction program, and promote carbon sequestration. Addressing the challenge of climate change will ultimately require a more comprehensive set of approaches, however, possibly including mechanisms to limit GHG emissions and allow the trading of GHG emissions credits, and efficiency standards to promote the use of efficient products and technologies . Enactment of such policy will no doubt be a longer-term proposition.
Eighty-five bills, resolutions, and amendments introduced in the 107th Congress by 27 Senators and 32 Representatives are listed below. Most of these legislative proposals specifically address global climate change, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and carbon sequestration. Also shown are a few bills, dealing with appropriations and automotive fuel efficiency, that do not. In addition to the legislation listed here, hundreds of other bills have been introduced that do not specifically address climate change, but would nevertheless have an impact on energy production and use and therefore on climate change.
View legislative proposals introduced in the 107th Congress related to global climate change. The legislation is gathered in the following categories: