President Joe Biden returned to the United States this week after conducting foreign visits on a recurring theme: tackling climate change.
But he returned to Washington, where his party was increasingly worried that his government’s climate agenda would fail at home.
The two parties held talks on Biden’s infrastructure proposal, which would spend billions of dollars on building crumbling roads, bridges and tunnels, as well as record clean energy funding- markAlthough Republicans and moderate Democrats are trying to shrink the package, progressives warn that they will stop supporting if the climate clause is removed.
“If there is no climate, there is no deal,” Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley from Oregon said this week. “When the ship is sailing on the infrastructure, the energy infrastructure cannot stay on the dock.”
Democratic leaders are now exploring another way to implement the Biden climate plan. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (Chuck Schumer) met with members of the Budget Committee on Wednesday to find ways to fund green electricity, zero-carbon cars, and manufacturing and agriculture to keep many climate goals unchanged.
Although it may be more feasible, the strategy may also weaken Biden’s climate policy. The legislation will be forcibly stuffed into the Senate’s budget coordination process—a special process that allows Democrats to use their small majority, but limits what can be passed.
Biden promises the U.S. will at least reduce emissions 50% From the 2005 level to 2030. His goal is to achieve carbon-free electricity by 2035-this goal means that unless their emissions can be captured, burning coal or natural gas will not produce any electricity.
These noble climate policies are the core content of Biden’s first international diplomacy visit. He told G7 leaders in Cornwall that global warming is a “survival problem facing mankind” and helped launch a $2 billion fund to help countries get rid of coal.
However, in Washington, given the fact that the Senate split with 50 to 50 parties and that at least 60 votes are required to pass the most important bill, it seems unlikely that Democrats will pass ambitious climate legislation with the support of Republicans.
“I think there are reasons to worry,” said Dan Lashof, the US director of the World Resources Institute, referring to the fate of Congress’s climate proposal.
He added: “It is always a challenge to obtain the scale of investment needed to reverse the climate change situation.” “Achieving substantial investment in infrastructure and clean energy technologies is critical to achieving US emissions targets.”
The settlement process proposed by Schumer requires a simple majority vote, but the rules limit it to tax and expenditure measures. Far-reaching initiatives aimed at reducing the US’s annual carbon emissions of 6.5 billion tons will be at risk.
The use of settlements will make it difficult to establish a “clean power standard,” which is a core part of Biden’s plan to address emissions. The standard will set stricter emission targets for power companies, which account for a quarter of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
“The Clean Electricity Standard is a more difficult clause to formulate through coordination, and the reason is simple: it is a standard,” said Paul Bledsoe, a strategic adviser at the Progress Policy Institute. “It will be very difficult to force the square hook of the clean power standard into the full opening of the reconciliation process.”
One solution that the Democratic Party is discussing is to pay incentives for clean electricity to meet some of the goals of the electricity standard while complying with the settlement criteria.
Leah Stokes, assistant professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said: “This will involve the federal government becoming a partner in transition, helping utility companies make progress at the speed and scale required for financial investment.”
Other parts of Biden’s climate agenda-including the expansion of tax credits for wind and solar and energy storage and the creation of credits for transmission lines-will be more straightforward in the settlement process. Policies that do not rely on legislation, such as vehicle emission regulations, can be directly implemented by the Biden government and are expected to be introduced soon.
The midterm elections in 2022 have added urgency to the legislative push, when the Democratic Party may lose control of the Senate or the House of Representatives.
Rachel Kyte, Dean of Fletcher College, said: “The rest of the world is very familiar with the midterm elections and how the U.S. Senate works because they worry that the toxic politics here will jeopardize the fulfillment of domestic climate promises.” Towers Futz University.
Republicans believe that the infrastructure proposal should focus more on roads, bridges, and construction projects, and oppose subsidies for electric vehicles and support for non-fossil energy regulations.
At the same time, not all Democratic senators are unanimous. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a coal-producing state, may have a decisive influence on the form of any climate proposal, because passing a bipartisan or reconciliation bill requires his vote.
Energy experts admit that due to the aging of the US grid, even if clean electricity standards are passed, achieving zero-carbon electricity by 2035 will be daunting.
IHS Markit analyst Patrick Luckow predicts that as more vehicles and home heating systems use electricity, the demand for electricity will grow rapidly in the next decade. “When you add renewable energy and get rid of fossil fuels, the demand will also grow, which makes it more challenging,” he said.
Democrats said that for political and environmental reasons, Biden needs to win the climate issue. “The Democrats cannot risk the failure of Biden’s climate and economic policies. This will paralyze the president,” Bledsoe said.