Congress and the Administration Focus on Climate Change

by Laura Walling, Senior Director of Government Relations, Goodwill Industries International

In celebrating Earth Day and Earth Week, the Biden Administration hosted a virtual climate summit for 40 world leaders. The President announced a commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030. The summit is also an opportunity for the Administration to highlight its all of government approach to the climate crisis, including not only the heads of environmental agencies but also officials like the secretary of defense and the director of national intelligence. Prior to the summit, Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen announced the creation of a “Climate Hub” that will would “coordinate and enhance” work to “facilitate and unlock” financing for climate-friendly investments; make environmental justice central to Treasury’s efforts; work to mitigate climate-related risks to the financial system; and more.

However, the Administration can’t help the environment on their own, and needs the support of Congress to reach their ambitious goals. The climate-oriented infrastructure bill, the American Jobs Plan is still coming together but the White House framework proposes:

  • Delivering clean drinking water by removing all lead pipes and services lines
  • Creating a renewed energy grid
  • Retrofitting, building, and preserving homes, schools, hospitals and federal buildings making them more energy efficient
  • Modernize public transit and seek climate friendly alternatives in moving people and freight
  • Using sustainable materials in repairing roads and bridges
  • Investing in electric vehicles
  • Investing in protection from extreme wildfires, coastal resilience to sea-level rise and hurricanes, support for agricultural resources management and climate-smart technologies
  • Creating a Civilian Climate Corp
  • Investing in training for green jobs

Climate change has had a disparate impact on communities of color. As such, the plan targets 40 percent of the benefits of climate and clean infrastructure investments to disadvantaged communities. The plan also targets investments in rural communities and communities impacted by the market-based transition to clean energy.

Since our founding in 1902, Goodwill® has been an entrepreneurial leader, environmental pioneer and social innovator that embraces triple bottom line principles of people, planet, and performance. Last year, local Goodwill organizations collectively recovered the value in 4.6 billion pounds of people’s used goods, giving these items second life and diverting them from a landfill. Goodwill also demonstrates leadership and innovation, creating thousands of jobs and contributing to the economic health of communities while preserving resources and the environment. As a leading provider of workforce development and job training services, we’re invested in preparing people for the jobs of the future, including green jobs. We’ll continue to provide updates as these proposals turn into concrete measures and ways in which Goodwill advocates can engage.