Schakowsky criticizes Republican politicians on climate change, urges local action


Alison Albeda/Daily Senior Staffer

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Loyola University professor John Frendreis. The two spoke about climate change at a town hall at the Unitarian Church of Evanston.

Christopher Vazquez, Video Editor

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) on Monday condemned Republican politicians on their climate change stances and urged community members to be civically active on environmental issues.

At a town hall hosted by the Unitarian Church of Evanston, Schakowsky criticized House Republicans for passing a resolution stating that a carbon tax would harm the U.S. economy, President Donald Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Climate Agreement and Trump’s cutting of funding from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The congresswoman — who serves in the House’s bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus — promoted a bill she co-sponsored to auction carbon permits, which would limit the amount of carbon dioxide companies can release on a yearly basis. She also expressed her support for a carbon tax.

“A well-designed carbon tax would pay for energy prices by returning the revenue that is generated to consumers,” Schakowsky said, “and it could lead to the creation of brand new technologies in energy, clean energy technologies, good paying jobs and jobs that would stimulate economic growth.”

The town hall comes a day after the United Nations released a report stating that keeping global warming from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius would require a 40 percent to 50 percent reduction in emissions in the next 12 years — a goal the report says will be difficult to achieve.

Rev. Eileen Wiviott, an assistant minister at the Unitarian Church of Evanston, introduced Schakowsky. She told attendees that while the report details an ambitious target, she hopes it can be achieved.

“That report also made clear that it is not too late,” Wiviott said, “and that there are ways to move policy even on the local level that can have an impact.”

Loyola University political science Prof. John Frendreis, who also spoke at the town hall, commended the United States’ decision to ratify the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change treaty of 1992, but criticized the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 for not giving developing nations enough responsibility in addressing climate change.

He added that while significant environmental regulations have passed under both Republican and Democratic U.S. presidents, there was a Democratic majority in Congress each time. He said electing a Democratic majority to Congress again could end “the war on climate change research” and promote renewable energy via tax policy.

Schakowsky praised Evanston for being an active community, saying political activism is the “lifeblood” of democracy. She encouraged the crowd to vote in the midterm elections, which are less than a month away.

“Change can happen,” Schakowsky said, “and it can happen really soon, like in 29 days.”

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