U.S. climate bill welcomed internationally, but still criticized for not going far enough

U.S. officials hope that will put them in a better position for a difficult negotiation: the international climate talks in Egypt this fall.

Kerry and Biden now have billions of dollars in investment in clean energy legislation to promote when they attend COP27 in November, which U.S. lawmakers and experts say will be a game-changer.

“I think we all feel like we’re crossing the desert with no hope of finding water, and the bald eagles start circling,” Heather Zichar, CEO of trade group Clean Energy America and a former Obama White House climate official, told CNN. . “We’re talking now over $360 billion [of climate investment]. As far as you can get, it’s really apples and oranges. ”

But despite the bill’s popularity overseas, the general feeling is that the United States is playing catch-up with its allies after years of inaction. There is also growing pressure on the United States to take financial responsibility for its historic role in the crisis.

“It’s obviously a good thing, but it’s important not to get carried away,” Bob Ward, director of policy and communications at the London-based Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, told CNN about the bill.

Ward said the bill gives “a level of credibility” to commitments the U.S. has already made, but many around the world would like to see the U.S. commit to large amounts of climate funding — helping the most vulnerable countries reduce emissions and adapt Climate change funding. crisis.

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“The bill doesn’t really address what’s still at stake in the discussion — there’s nothing in the bill on international climate finance, which is a bit concerning,” Ward said. “Rich countries are now required to take a leadership role in climate finance.”

Climate financing is not typically included in the kind of tax and climate bill Democrats are preparing to pass, and Biden has called for climate financing in his 2023 budget. But the US has a history of resisting calls for international financial instruments. During last year’s talks, the United States opposed a loss and damage plan that would compensate affected countries for damage caused by the climate crisis.

Still, if the bill passes, lawmakers and experts say it would greatly improve Biden’s ability to meet international climate commitments. According to the Rhodium Group, a nonpartisan climate think tank, this would allow the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 31-44% from 2005 levels by the end of the century. Biden has pledged to halve U.S. emissions by 2030.

“All of a sudden, we can have these conferences with leadership not just rhetorical, but also policy,” Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, told CNN. “That leaves countries lagging behind. It’s harder to claim that the U.S. is speaking from both sides — and use that as an excuse to stand by.”

U.S.-China tensions could cloud progress

While the bill allocates historic funding amounts for climate and clean energy, it is also working toward a larger goal—competitiveness with China in renewable energy and domestic manufacturing jobs.

The bill includes $60 billion for domestic clean energy manufacturing and $30 billion for production credit tax credits for wind, solar and battery storage. Its electric vehicle tax credit is designed to incentivize U.S. manufacturing or manufacturing in countries with free trade agreements with the U.S., such as Canada and Mexico.
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But China has a monopoly on making solar panels and electric vehicle batteries, and U.S. lawmakers and experts have long warned that the U.S. will fall behind if Congress doesn’t pass funding and tax credits to invest in domestic supply chains.

Murphy and Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., told CNN they hope the bill will encourage a productive competition with China — pushing the world’s largest emitter (the U.S. is now the second largest) emitting countries) to do more to decarbonize.

“China is our competitor. They’re going to be watching this closely, and I assure you, they’re going to come out and show that they’re going to do more and better than us,” Hickenlooper said. “If you look at China over the past few years, It’s going to be dramatic how much solar and wind is implemented. Now they’re going to have to step up even further because we’re catching up to it.”

China's special envoy on climate issues, Xie Zhenhua, spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos in May.
Before the 2015 Paris Agreement, U.S.-China rivalry had hampered climate negotiations for decades. But the climate partnership between the two countries, announced in Glasgow last year, offers hope that the world’s two biggest polluters may cooperate enough to actually reduce emissions.
But this is now on hold. On Friday, China’s foreign ministry said it would suspend bilateral climate change talks after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan. The two countries have been cooperating on climate issues even as tensions have escalated in other areas in recent years.
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Sam Gill, CEO of the think tank chinadialogue, told CNN he does not think the U.S. legislation will have much impact on China’s climate decision-making.

“China has its own concerns, such as the aftermath of the Russian invasion, the macroeconomics, the Covid lockdown and the crucial National Assembly meeting in the fall,” Geall said. “Even with such a positive turnaround, I’m not sure it will have that much impact on the COP. impact, as other issues are now distracting and fueling tensions.”

Ward admonished the United States to remain humble ahead of the November summit and remember how the Trump administration’s whiplash has re-directed international politics on the climate impact.

“The U.S. is kind of playing catch-up, and sometimes I do worry that the U.S. forgets that the world didn’t stand still during those years of the Trump administration,” Ward said. “In a way, the world order has changed and the U.S. cannot Dominance like before.”

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