President Joe Biden is likely to abandon a clean energy program that was the centerpiece of his efforts to tackle greenhouse gas emissions at home, US media reported, due to opposition from a swing-vote Democratic senator from a state with a historically large coal industry.
Funding to replace coal and gas plants with wind, solar and nuclear generation was part of a huge budget bill that Biden is struggling to pass in Congress.
the New York Times reported that White House staff members are now rewriting the legislation without the $ 150 billion clean energy provision, with the expectation that they will not be able to pass the original version due to strong opposition from the West Virginia senator Joe manchin.
The news is the latest blow to the hopes of the United Nations summit on climate change, Cop26, to be held in Glasgow in two weeks.
China, the world’s top greenhouse gas emitter, unveiled plans to build more coal-fired power plants last week, hinting that it may be reconsidering its schedule to cut emissions, as it grapples with an energy crisis amid a slowdown in the economy. economic growth.
It also seems increasingly clear that President Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful leader in many years, will not attend the Cop26 meeting. His absence will undermine hopes that the negotiation could get an additional boost from a personal meeting of leaders.
For the Glasgow summit, which was delayed a year due to the pandemic, countries are expected to produce revised national emission reduction targets to help the world limit warming to 1.5 ° C, the legally binding target. of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
The UK presidency also hopes to focus on three other areas to meet climate goals: climate finance, carbon phase-out and nature-based solutions.
Scientists estimate that emissions must be reduced by 45% by 2030, compared to 2010 levels, and from there to net zero emissions by 2050, if the world is to have a good chance of staying within the threshold agreed in Paris. .
The UK and other major players have already accepted that they will not be able to secure commitments for such sweeping cuts from major emitters in Glasgow, so London is focused on making enough progress to “keep 1.5 ° C alive” as a potential target.
British diplomats say they are “cautiously optimistic” about overall progress, with a deal to provide $ 100 billion to developing countries expected to be sealed and some progress on a deal to halt deforestation and destruction of the nature. Last week, more than 20 countries joined in a pledge to reduce methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
The UK, the US and the EU have also embarked on a frenzied round of climate diplomacy in a latest attempt to bring key countries to a deal.
But the latest news from the US and China, the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters, will raise questions about how far the meeting can progress toward core emissions targets.
The United States is historically the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases, and the United States’ clean energy project was established as the cornerstone of American efforts in Glasgow to pressure other countries to move faster in the fight against change. climate. Biden has called for urgent action on climate, in a definitive break with his predecessor Donald Trump, who rejected the international scientific consensus on a warming world and hampered global efforts to do something about it.
But if the president is forced to abandon clean energy provision, it may damage international faith in Washington’s ability to turn rhetoric into national action on climate change. It would certainly be more difficult for climate envoy John Kerry and his team to pressure other countries to make costly efforts to reduce their own emissions.
The power sector produces about a quarter of America’s greenhouse gases, and the infrastructure program was intended to trigger long-term change in the country’s energy sector that would endure beyond Biden’s presidency. .
He proposed incentives for utilities to clean up their energy production and penalties for remaining dependent on fossil fuels.
Manchin, who has said he is staunchly opposed to the clean energy deal, has personal financial ties to the coal industry and represents a state where mining, while shrinking, still employs thousands of people.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism