Federal efforts to address climate change are undertaken under laws, and with funding, approved by Congress. Like other complex economy-wide challenges, climate change touches on a wide array of interests. The stakes vary from sector to sector and region to region. An effective, lasting climate solution requires a careful balancing of those interests, which typically is achieved through the legislative process.
Present federal climate efforts are proceeding largely under the 1970 Clean Air Act, which was not initially designed to address climate change. The most cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the worst consequences of climate change is a comprehensive market-based approach that puts a price on carbon. Despite support from the business and environmental communities, Congress has not seriously debated such an approach since the failure of cap-and-trade legislation in 2009.