Biden’s Climate Pledge: Not Easy, Not Impossible

By Polityk | 23/04/2021 | Повідомлення, Політика

Cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half is doable but hard, experts say, and some of the biggest barriers are political, not technical.President Joe Biden on Thursday FILE – A wind turbine is pictured, Jan. 13, 2021, near Spearville, Kan.U.S. emissions are declining, but far too slowly to reach Biden’s target. They would have to fall on a scale that has happened only three times since 2005, Rossetti noted, and not for good reasons — during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2008-09 financial crisis and during an exceptionally mild winter in 2012.The Biden administration has proposed broad areas where it sees opportunities for cuts, without giving much detail. It says there are multiple pathways to get there.But each path faces opposition, experts note. Legislation may struggle to pass in a closely divided Congress. And a conservative Supreme Court may take a dim view of expanding regulations.Several research groups have mapped out ways that the United States could cut emissions in half.”We have the policies to do it, and we have the technologies to do it,” said Robbie Orvis, director of energy policy design at Energy Innovation, a policy research group.For starters, the amount of solar and wind power installed each year needs to be three to four times as much as last year’s record-setting pace.”It is a big leap to do that, but the technology exists,” Orvis said.And the technology is cheaper than ever, and getting cheaper.The FILE – New Lexus automobiles are shown for sale after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the state would ban the sale of new gasoline-powered passenger cars and trucks starting in 2035.The next biggest cut would come from transportation, where the largest proportion of U.S. carbon emissions come from. A combination of incentives and regulations would take old, inefficient vehicles off the road and help increase sales of zero-emissions vehicles.Smaller shares would come from cutting industrial emissions by switching to electrification, where possible, or emerging sources such as hydrogen or ammonia, though these technologies are still in development.The best path to any of these policies would be through legislation passed by Congress, experts note. Many of them are included in Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal.But Republicans are firmly opposed to it.FILE – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., turns to an aide in Washington, March 7, 2021.”Their so-called ‘infrastructure’ plan would aim at completely ‘de-carbonizing’ our electric grid, which means hurting our coal and natural gas industries and putting good-paying American jobs into the shredder,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement.Some policies could be implemented through regulations, which do not require Congress. But it is a riskier approach.”I’m honestly pretty pessimistic on that because the scope of regulatory authority Biden has is limited,” R Street’s Rossetti said. “The courts are going to challenge any sort of proposal that goes outside of those bounds.”Plus, regulations can change with administrations, and climate regulations have whiplashed through the past several presidencies. The Trump administration reversed President Barack Obama’s climate regulations, and Biden is reversing Trump’s reversals.Many of the policies that would get the United States to a 50% cut have strong backing from the private sector.FILE – An Apple logo hangs above the entrance to the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in the Manhattan borough of New York City,  July 21, 2015.More than 400 companies signed a letter to Biden ahead of this week’s climate summit asking for a 50% cut. The list includes tech giants Apple and Microsoft, mega-retailers Walmart and Target, automakers Ford and General Motors, and other household names.The electric utility industry’s main lobby group supports a clean energy standard.”A well-designed CES makes some sense for us,” Emily Fisher, senior vice president of clean energy at the Edison Electric Institute, told Reuters.But she cautioned that the industry still needs breakthroughs, in long-term storage and carbon capture, for example, to meet the target.”We need those technologies, and they don’t exist,” Fisher said.Getting to 50% “is certainly going to be challenging,” Orvis said, “but I’m cautiously optimistic.”