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), to over 80 in the 107th Congress (2001-2002), and 96 in the 108th Congress (2003-2004). Of the relevant bills, resolutions, and amendments introduced in the 108th Congress, focus primarily has been on global climate change research and comprehensive emissions cap and trade programs with additional bills concentrated on GHG reporting and power plant emissions of CO2.
The relevant legislative proposals - bills, resolutions, and amendments - for addressing global climate change and GHG emissions in this Congress are listed here in the following categories:
Of note, the 108th Congress enacted the following climate-relevant legislation in 2004:
- Extension of tax credit for electricity produced from wind, closed-loop biomass and chicken waste.
- Tax incentives for alcohol and biodiesel fuel.
- Tax deductions for clean-fuel and electric vehicles.
- Earmarking of appropriations for programs in developing countries and countries in transition that directly: (1) promote energy conservation, energy efficiency and clean energy; (2) measure, monitor, and reduce GHG emissions; (3) increase carbon sequestration activities; and (4) enhance climate change mitigation and adaptation programs. (H.R.2673, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2004)
- Establishment of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership program, recognizing, among other things, the role of Congo Basin forests in absorbing carbon dioxide. (H.R.2264, The Congo Basin Forest Partnership Act of 2003)
In addition, the following bills were acted upon, but not enacted into law:
- The Senate Commerce Committee passed a bill to establish within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) a program of scientific research on abrupt climate change. (S.1164, The Abrupt Climate Change Research Act of 2003)
- The House Science Committee passed a bill that, among other things, would direct NOAA to conduct basic and applied research on high-performance computing applications, with emphasis on improving weather forecasting and climate prediction. (H.R.4218, High-Performance Computing Revitalization Act of 2004)
- The House Science Committee passed a bill that, among other things, would establish a multimodal energy and climate change program to study the relationship of energy, transportation, and climate change, and call for the development of strategies to reduce GHG emissions from transportation. (H.R.3551, Surface Transportation Research and Development Act of 2003)
As one can see, climate change measures are increasingly being offered by members of both the Democratic and Republican Parties (to which all but two members of Congress belong). The growing interest suggests that a bipartisan consensus is developing around the need to address climate change. Addressing climate change will ultimately require a more comprehensive set of approaches, including a mandatory program to reduce GHG emissions (such as a program to cap GHG emissions and allow trading of emission credits), and efficiency standards to promote the use of efficient products and technologies. The first such bipartisan bills were introduced in the 108th Congress. Enactment of such policy will no doubt be a longer-term proposition.