Biden reaches $ 550 billion climate compromise days before big United Nations summit
Just a week after his own party’s fossil fuel pillars killed his carbon reduction proposal, President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a compromise package which, if passed, would mark by far the biggest climate investment in U.S. history.
The proposal allocates $ 550 billion from the Democrats’ $ 1.75 trillion Build Back Better Act toward the development of zero-carbon electricity, electric vehicles, and pollution control.
In a speech Thursday afternoon, Biden called the cadre “the most important investment to tackle the climate crisis [to have] never, never happened – beyond any other advanced nation in the world.
“Over a billion metric tonnes of emissions reductions, at least 10 times bigger for the climate than any bill ever passed before and enough to position us for a 50 to 52 emission reduction % by 2030, “he said. “And we will do it in a way that develops national industries, creates well-paying union jobs and tackles long-standing environmental injustices.”
On a dollar-for-dollar basis, the plan overshadows the last major federal climate investment, a $ 90 billion package won by President Barack Obama in 2009, and gives the White House leverage to demand that the rest of the world take drastic action to curb climate pollution when the president arrives next week in Glasgow, Scotland for the major United Nations climate summit.
But the package fall far away what scientists and economists in the ideological spectrum say is necessary to transform the US economy and prevent global warming from reaching catastrophic levels. Coupled with a lackluster commitment to cut emissions from China, the US proposal has fueled fears that the world will not cut pollution fast enough to prevent global temperatures from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, regularly causing billions of dollars in damage and millions of early deaths.
“It’s easy to call this the biggest climate bill of all time when the federal government has done so little to protect people from the ongoing crisis and when our democracy is so polluted by the influence of fossil fuel lobbyists, ”Janet Redman, Greenpeace USA’s climate campaign manager, said in a statement. “The bar for action cannot be set by what experts deem possible or by the achievements of past administrations – it must be set by science and justice.”
The proposal, which will almost certainly receive no votes from Republican lawmakers, will require every Democratic senator and virtually every House Democrat to become law. Progressives, who wanted a $ 10 trillion plan in line with projections of what is needed for full decarbonization, said they were waiting to see the final text of the legislation before guaranteeing their votes.
The deal, according to a fact sheet released Thursday morning by the White House, includes around $ 320 billion in tax credits for companies that buy and build solar, wind and nuclear power, and for drivers. who buy electric vehicles. The program would last 10 years – twice as long as previous clean energy tax credits.
An additional $ 105 billion would go to investments to fortify the country against extreme weather conditions, clean up pathogenic chemicals in historically polluted communities, and set up a Civilian Climate Corps modeled on the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps, which planted billions of trees and provided jobs during the Great Depression.
The administration said it won $ 110 billion in targeted incentives to boost domestic manufacturing of clean energy products and basic industrial products such as cement and steel, which have struggled to compete with lesser rivals. expensive and often more polluting abroad.
“It’s easy to call this the biggest climate bill of all time when the federal government has done so little to protect people from the ongoing crisis and when our democracy is so polluted by the influence of fossil fuel lobbyists. “
– Janet Redman, Greenpeace USA
The budget also provides $ 20 billion for the government itself to buy more green technologies, including small-modulus nuclear reactors, which could have a ripple effect on technologies that have struggled to find solutions. private buyers.
Almost half of the country’s emissions come from the exhaust pipes of automobiles, office ovens and household stoves, and eliminating this pollution means replacing those cars, heating and cooking systems with electric alternatives. In doing so, according to a 2018 study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, would increase US electricity use by 40% over the next three decades.
Investments in the White House budget deal will undoubtedly accelerate the transition to vehicles and electrical devices and increase the likelihood that zero-carbon sources will constitute a large part of new electricity generation. But the United States had nearly 200 new gas-fired power plants under construction or under licensing just two years ago, and the plan does little to explicitly limit fossil fuel use.
It was on purpose. Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.), a conservative Democrat from a large fossil fuel-producing state whose family owns a coal business, opposed the regulatory agenda that was supposed to be the centerpiece of the Biden’s climate strategy.
The proposed clean electricity performance program would have given the Department of Energy $ 150 billion to pay utilities that increase their production of zero-carbon electricity by 4% each year and impose fines on those who do. did not achieve this goal.
According to company data advocacy groups Evergreen Action and Natural Resources Defense Council have collected. This made the provision essential for meeting emissions targets. Independent modelers predicted that the program would see the United States meet one-third of its goal of halving its emissions by the end of this decade.
Democrats have managed to redistribute that funding to other programs, delivering a much larger-than-expected suite of tax credits. That’s a lot of carrots. And the administration has pledged to make up for the loss of the program by promulgating new regulations at the Environmental Protection Agency, thereby restoring the federal government’s stick.
A new analysis by the Rhodium Group, a consultancy firm, found that the combination of funding and executive branch actions could, technically, deliver the emission reductions promised by Biden. (New modeling by independent consultants that includes increased spending on tax credits and other climate provisions is expected in the coming days).
The implementation of the climate plan is accompanied by major ifs. The regulations will take years to come into effect and are likely to face serious legal difficulties like those that satisfied the rules proposed by the Obama administration after the 44th President failed to codify a decarbonization plan by Congress . Unlike then, the federal judiciary is now made up of judges, former President Donald Trump, a fossil fuel hardline supporter, appointed to the bench, and the Conservatives enjoy a 6-3 majority to the Supreme Court. And if Biden, already the oldest person to hold the presidency, is defeated in 2024, the next administration could reverse regulatory and executive actions almost as easily as the current White House has passed them.
The Biden administration already got a taste of this reality in June. Shortly after fulfilling a campaign pledge to suspend leasing of oil and gas on federal lands, Judge Terry Doughty of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, appointed by Trump, made a decision lifting of the temporary rental stoppage.
On November 17, just five days after the scheduled end of the UN climate summit, Biden’s Home Office is expected to auction off some 80 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drillers. .