US climate bill welcomed internationally but still criticized for not going far enough

US officials hope this will put them in a better position for the tough negotiations ahead: the international climate talks in Egypt this fall.

Kerry and Biden now have billions in legislative clean energy investments to brag about when they head to COP27 in November, which U.S. lawmakers and experts say is a game-changer.

“I think we all felt like we were walking in the desert with no hope of finding water, and the vultures were starting to circle around,” Heather Zichal, CEO of the American Clean Power business group and former CNN, told CNN. chief climate officer in the Obama White House. . “We are now talking about more than 360 billion dollars [of climate investment]. It’s really apples and oranges in terms of what you can get.”

But while the bill is being welcomed abroad, there is a general feeling that the United States is simply catching up with its allies after years of inaction. Pressure has also increased for 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 Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, told CNN.

Ward said the bill gives pledges the United States has already made a “degree of credibility,” but what much of the world wants to see the United States commit to significant climate finance – funds to help the most vulnerable countries reduce their emissions and adapt to the crisis.

“Issues that are still key in the discussions aren’t really addressed by this bill — there’s nothing in the bill about international climate finance, which is a little worrying,” Ward said. “Leadership is now demanded of rich countries when it comes to climate finance.”

Climate finance would typically not be included in the kind of tax and climate bill Democrats are preparing to pass, and Biden has called for climate finance in his 2023 budget. But the United States has a history of pushing back. international calls for financial tools. During talks last year, the United States was against a loss and damage program that would compensate affected countries for damage caused by the climate crisis.

Still, if the bill passes, lawmakers and experts said it would represent a serious boost in Biden’s ability to meet his international climate commitments. That would put the United States on a path to reducing greenhouse gas emissions 31-44% below 2005 levels by the end of the decade, according to the nonpartisan think tank on the Rhodium Group climate. Biden has pledged to halve US emissions by 2030.

“All of a sudden, we can come to these conferences not just with rhetorical leadership, but also with political leadership,” Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut told CNN. “It’s much harder for laggards to pretend the United States speaks out of both sides of its mouth — and use that as an excuse to stay away.”

Sino-US tensions could overshadow progress

While the bill allocates a historic amount of money for climate and clean energy, it also tries to achieve something bigger – competitiveness with China in renewable energy and manufacturing jobs in the country. also.

The bill contains $60 billion for domestic clean energy manufacturing and $30 billion for a production tax credit for wind, solar and battery energy storage. Its electric vehicle tax credit is intended to encourage manufacturing in the United States or manufacturing in countries with which the United States has a free trade agreement, such as Canada and Mexico.
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But China has cornered the market for making solar panels and batteries for electric vehicles, and U.S. lawmakers and experts have long warned that the U.S. will fall behind unless Congress invests in a chain of national procurement with funding and tax credits.

Murphy and Democratic Sen. John Hickenlooper of Colorado told CNN they hope the bill will spur a productive rivalry with China – pushing the world’s biggest emitter (the US is now second) to do more. to decarbonize.

“China is our rival. They’re going to pay very close attention to it and I guarantee you they’re going to come out and show they’re going to do even more and better than we can,” Hickenlooper said. . “If you look at the amount of solar and wind that China has implemented over the past few years, it’s been dramatic. Now they’re going to have to increase it even more because we’re going after this.”

China's special climate envoy Xie Zhenhua speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos in May.
US-China rivalry had for decades stalled climate negotiations ahead of the 2015 Paris accord. But a climate partnership between the two nations announced last year in Glasgow has given hope that the two biggest polluters of the world might just cooperate enough to actually reduce emissions.
But it is now on hold. On Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry announced it would suspend bilateral talks on climate change, following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan. The two nations had been cooperating on climate even as tensions escalated in other areas in recent years.
World not adapting fast enough to climate crisis, says UN

Sam Geall, CEO of think tank China Dialogue, told CNN he doesn’t think the US legislation would have had much impact on China’s climate decisions.

“China has its own concerns, like the fallout from the Russian invasion, the macro economy, the Covid lockdowns and its critical National Congress conference in the fall,” Geall said. “Even if there was such a positive change, I’m not sure it would have such an impact on the COP, given the other issues that are distracting and stirring up tension at the moment.”

Ward warned the United States to stay humble ahead of the November summit and remember how the Trump administration’s whiplash has reoriented international climate policy.

“The United States is kind of catching up, and I’m afraid sometimes the United States has forgotten that the world didn’t stop during those years of the Trump administration, when it kept going” , Ward said. “To a certain extent, there has been a change in the world order, and the United States cannot dominate in the same way as before.”


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