Happy Earth Month! We’re starting to see a sense of urgency in Washington when it comes to addressing climate change and environmental policy. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently launched a new web page with information on climate and environmental, social and governance (ESG) updates, President Biden announced his infrastructure plan, and on Monday, Rep. Yvette Clarke (NY-09) announced the introduction of the Climate Justice Act of 2021. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan is also scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday, April 29, where he’ll discuss President Biden’s EPA budget request for fiscal year 2022. We’ve included highlights of recent climate and environmental policy priorities below.

Climate Justice Act of 2021

On Monday, April 12, Rep. Yvette Clarke announced the introduction of the Climate Justice Act of 2021—focused on environmental policy for communities of color. The Climate Justice Act establishes a Climate Justice Working Group to advise on an “equitable transition towards a clean, climate-resilient, zero-emission economy.” Fashion industry professionals often address racial justice and the climate crisis as separate issues, though the two are intrinsically connected—as Black, Brown and Indigenous communities are the most severely impacted by climate change. The House Energy and Commerce Committee also held a hearing today on environmental justice and frontline communities. Read more on the Climate Justice Act here.

President Biden’s Infrastructure Plan

President Biden released a $2 trillion proposal, known as the American Jobs Plan, to improve infrastructure and to help build the economy—with key provisions related to climate solutions, racial equity and environmental justice.

Tech and Racial Equity as Part of Climate Solutions. Inclusive, tech-related solutions must be a part of the fashion industry’s response to the climate crisis. President Biden has acknowledged the inequities in access to R&D dollars for talent of color, and he is calling on Congress to make a $10 billion R&D investment at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). He is also calling on Congress to invest $15 billion in creating up to 200 centers of excellence that serve as research incubators at HBCUs and other MSIs, as well as $35 billion for technologies to mitigate climate change.

Transportation Infrastructure. The transport of materials and goods plays a critical part of the fashion industry’s supply chain and environmental impact in the U.S. and around the world. President Biden’s plan includes an additional $621 billion for transportation infrastructure and resilience to cover climate solutions for passenger and freight rail service, ports and waterways, and a new program to address racial equity and environmental justice.

Public Lands and Waters. The American Jobs Plan would invest $10 billion to establish a new Civilian Climate Corps to conserve public lands and waters and advance environmental justice. The Climate Corps would also help transition talent to new union jobs as the economy continues to recover.

SEC and Climate Change

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently launched a new web page focused on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues—covering the Commission’s new task force on climate and ESG and climate-related disclosure in public company filings. The SEC also requested public comments on climate change disclosures, including feedback on how to: regulate, review and guide climate change disclosures; quantify and measure information regarding climate risks; and fit climate change disclosures into the SEC’s broader ESG framework. On Wednesday, April 14, the Senate confirmed Gary Gensler as the next Chair of the SEC—making Gensler the top SEC official for climate and ESG issues. Read more here.

 

 

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