What blocking the build back better bill means for the climate, in one graphic


The fate of the endangered Build Back Better bill in Congress will have major implications for America’s ability to tackle climate change, researchers said.






Estimated future

emissions

Bipartite front

infrastructure law

The blocked invoice is crucial for

Meeting Biden’s climate goals

Estimated future

emissions

Bipartite front

infrastructure law

The blocked invoice is crucial for

Meeting Biden’s climate goals

Estimated future

emissions

Bipartite front

infrastructure law

The blocked invoice is crucial for

Meeting Biden’s climate goals

Bill is the key to achieving climate goals

In tonnes of CO2-equivalent

Before infra-

law of structures

Estimated future

emissions


Source: REPEAT project

Notes: The analysis is based on a version of the Build Back Better bill that passed the House in November. The modeled trajectories do not capture potential changes in vehicle travel due to the new spending on highways and public transport in the Infrastructure Bill, and they do not include the effects of the new emissions rules. EPA light vehicles released this week. Data excludes changes in terrestrial carbon sinks.

If the bill passes in its current form, with hundreds of billions of dollars in clean energy, the United States could move closer to President Biden’s goal of halving global warming emissions of the country by 2030. This could bolster global efforts to avoid a drastic rise in temperatures.

But if the bill dies, it could prove extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the United States to meet these aggressive climate goals. This week Senator Joe Manchin III, a decisive vote for Democrats, said he opposed the current version of the bill, putting legislative negotiations on the brink of collapse.

“There is still a yawning gap between where we are today and where we need to be to meet President Biden’s climate goals,” said Jesse Jenkins, energy systems engineer at Princeton University who led an effort to model the effects of the Build Back Better Bill on US Emissions. “Without this bill or a climate bill of similar scope, it is really difficult to see how these goals will be achieved.”

The Earth has already warmed by about 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) over the past century, fueling increasingly dangerous heatwaves, floods, droughts and wildfires. Mr Biden has set a goal of reducing US greenhouse gas emissions to at least 50% below 2005 levels by the end of this decade, which roughly matches at the rate scientists say the whole world must keep up with to keep Earth from warming beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius. and minimize the risk of catastrophic impacts.

The United States is not yet on track to meet these emissions targets, even as clean energy technologies like wind turbines, solar panels, and electric vehicles are becoming cheaper and expanding rapidly. Various studies have estimated that the United States will only meet the midpoint of Mr. Biden’s climate target under current policies.

The new bipartisan $ 1,000 billion infrastructure law that Congress approved in November would help only slightly. This contains billions of new funding research and develop low carbon energy technologies, such as clean hydrogen fuels, advanced nuclear reactors and techniques for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It also contained $ 7.5 billion to build a nationwide network of electric vehicle chargers.

But vehicle chargers aside, many of these technologies could take years to develop and are unlikely to significantly reduce emissions over the next decade.

This is where the Build Back Better bill is supposed to come in. The version of the $ 2 trillion bill that was passed by the House in November contains $ 555 billion in clean energy spending, including new tax credits for companies that install wind, solar, and wind power plants. , geothermal, batteries and other clean energy technologies over the next decade. Buyers of electric vehicles would receive up to $ 12,500 in tax credits. And companies would receive financial incentives to keep low-carbon nuclear power plants open that risk shutting down prematurely or to capture emissions from industrial facilities and bury them underground before they can warm the planet.

“You can see the two bills as complementary,” said Stephen Naimoli, who works on energy and climate issues at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. While the infrastructure law will help develop the clean energy technologies of the future, the Build Back Better bill is designed to accelerate the use of technologies that are ready today, he said.

When Dr Jenkins and his colleagues modeled effects of the House version of the Build Back Better bill, they estimated that the United States would meet most of the way to Mr. Biden’s 2030 target, although the nation would still miss the deadline of around five years. without additional action.

Wind and solar would grow at about three to four times their current rate, the researchers estimated, while utilities would withdraw their remaining coal-fired power plants more quickly. Sales of electric vehicles are expected to accelerate, leading to lower transport-related emissions. And companies would start installing carbon capture technology, burying millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide underground.

Dr Jenkins warned that there is always some uncertainty involved in modeling. For example, while the bill would give companies huge financial incentives to build more wind and solar power, such projects could be hampered by local opposition or the lack of new transmission lines. Still, most analysts agreed the bill would represent the biggest step the United States has ever taken to tackle climate change.

The big question, then, is whether the Senate will pass the bill or make any major changes. And that largely depends on Mr. Manchin. With every Republican opposing the bill in the Senate equally divided, Democratic leaders need his vote to move the legislation forward.

Mr. Manchin, whose home state of West Virginia is a major producer of coal and natural gas, could call for further changes to the climate provisions of the House bill, even though he decides to sign. For example, he opposed a levy on oil and gas producers that emit methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. He criticized tax credits for electric vehicles, which he said should not be available to high-income families. And he said the bill passed by the House would jeopardize the reliability of the electricity grid while increasing reliance on foreign supply chains.

If the climate bill dies completely, the Biden administration will have fewer options to cut emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency is working on regulations to reduce pollution from power plants, cars and trucks, but those efforts could be challenged in court or overturned by a new administration. And, while some states like California and New York continue to push forward with their own climate policies, these only cover a fraction of the country.

“Ultimately, we need to more than double the pace of emission reductions this decade,” Dr Jenkins said. “It’s a huge lift, and you really need a national policy in place to do it.”


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