The Politics of Poverty

Ideas and analysis from Oxfam America's policy experts

Senate caves to industry on climate

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In the early morning hours on Saturday, the Senate caved to industry pressure and dealt a blow to the planet. This action comes at a time designed to avoid public attention and as many Senators head out to the campaign trail to save their jobs. The Senate passed the “Thune Bill” (S.1956) by unanimous consent […]

In the early morning hours on Saturday, the Senate caved to industry pressure and dealt a blow to the planet. This action comes at a time designed to avoid public attention and as many Senators head out to the campaign trail to save their jobs.

The Senate passed the “Thune Bill” (S.1956) by unanimous consent making it illegal for the US airline industry to comply with EU regulations that cut carbon emissions. See previous posts for more details.

The airline industry has been lobbying hard for Thune to pass the Senate for months after gaining a victory in the House last year and climate advocates have had little resources to compete. The vote represents only the third time in history that the US government has made it illegal under US law to comply with the law of another country—putting the European climate change law on par with South Africa’s racist apartheid laws and the anti-Israel boycott by Arab nations.

All along, governments, industry groups, and climate advocates have agreed on one thing: the optimal solution is a global scheme to be implemented by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). It’s now in the administration’s hands to proactively seek a global solution in ICAO that generates meaningful emissions reductions with fair provisions for developing countries’ airlines, including finance from the scheme being channeled to developing countries.

Unlike Congress, the administration needs to spend less time stirring up trade wars and kowtowing to industry, and more time leading the way towards an international solution.

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