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The Next Economy
Is Bipartisan Climate Policy Possible in the US?

The reality of climate change’s existence is not the debate that voters are interested in anymore: They have experienced it firsthand and care about solutions.

Well into a major global election year — and with climate, environment and energy measures all on the ballot — can climate action ever be bipartisan in the US?

Judging from the ways that legacy politicians and media talk about the climate crisis, it doesn’t seem possible: Climate solutions are pinned as part of the “liberal agenda,” painted as anti-business, and a keystone issue that fuels the cultural and political divide in the US.

But, if you talk to voters, it’s an entirely different story: Gone are the days of partisan climate denial — the number of US adults who understand that climate change is happening outnumber those who don’t by nearly five to one, with the majority describing climate change as a major threat to the country’s wellbeing; most voters, no matter their party affiliation, have experienced its effects firsthand. The reality of climate change’s existence is not the debate that voters are interested in anymore: Voters care about solutions.

During the State of the Union last month, President Biden vowed to cut US emissions in half by 2030 — which voters across party lines overwhelmingly support — and highlighted economic gains, including from climate action. But despite bipartisan support, Washington State Representative Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R) restated her familiar refrain deriding the President’s radical, “rush-to-green” agenda.

The truth is, using the climate crisis to spur political divisions is an outdated — and ineffectual — playbook. According to surveys, in the minds of US voters, there is little that’s radical about climate action (in fact, on average, voters believe more needs to be done). Instead, they see the tremendous opportunity for climate solutions to build a powerful new economy that benefits the planet. Today, the broader climate economy is spurring local economies, creating jobs and positioning the US as a leading player in the energy transition on the global playing field.

Instead of exacerbating divisions and rolling out the tired old rhetoric, there’s an opportunity to unite the US people around pride in their country’s burgeoning identity as a climate innovator: This is the true story of the US today — climate innovation, economic growth and environmental benefit.

Growing ‘green collar’ labor market

Climate innovation continues to boost the economy and provide blue-collar jobs on a local and national level in many industries — energy, manufacturing, tech, construction, etc. From 2015 to 2021, ‘green’ talent rose by nearly 39 percent fueled by growth in the renewable energy sector — with the wind and solar industries seeing the largest growth in the labor market. According to analysis by the World Economic Forum, electric vehicle specialists were among the most in-demand jobs for 2023 — and the field is expected to experience 40 percent growth in the next five years. LinkedIn also reported that hiring for sustainability-related jobs consistently outpaces overall hiring.

Fast-tracking tech innovation

Cutting-edge climate technologies — from AI-driven coral restoration to carbon capture to improving electric vehicles — are addressing various aspects of the climate crisis and have experienced an enormous influx of talent, capital and buzz as a result. Climate tech is a booming field that will only continue to grow and provide solutions that are deployable and scalable to many communities across the country. As a long-standing global leader in technology innovation, the US now has an opportunity to use its advantage to emerge as an international leader in the blossoming climate-tech market.

A bipartisan issue

The truth is, climate action is already a bipartisan effort; and it’s time politicians stop positioning climate solutions as a partisan line, and for the media to stop fueling that flame. There is no sense in ignoring public sentiment to create political divisions — for both politicians who make these claims, and for news organizations who report on them.

It's time to be honest and embrace the opportunities. Climate change is not a divisive ballot issue: For the majority of US voters, it’s unifying — and a chance to revitalize the American dream.