Coal State Democrat set to derail Biden’s clean energy plans

Coal State Democrat set to derail Biden’s clean energy plans

President Joe Biden is likely to abandon a clean energy program that was the centerpiece of his efforts to tackle greenhouse gas emissions in his country, US media reported, due to opposition a Democratic variable-vote senator from a state with a historically significant coal industry.

Funding to replace coal and gas power plants with wind, solar and nuclear power plants was part of a massive budget bill that Biden is struggling to get through Congress.

The New York Times reported that White House staff are rewriting legislation without the $ 150 billion clean energy provision, in hopes that they will not be able to adopt the original version due to the fierce opposition from West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.

Joe Biden’s failure could undermine confidence in his country’s ability to turn climate rhetoric into action. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

The news is the latest blow to hopes at the UN climate change summit, Cop26, due in Glasgow in two weeks.

China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, last week revealed plans to build more coal-fired power plants and hinted that it may rethink its emissions reduction schedule, while it is on the verge of struggling with an energy crisis against a backdrop of slowing economic growth.

It also seems increasingly clear that President Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful leader for many years, will not attend the Cop26 rally. His absence will undermine hopes that the negotiation could gain additional momentum from a personal gathering of leaders.

For the Glasgow summit, which has been delayed for a year due to the pandemic, countries are expected to produce revised national emission reduction targets to help the world limit heating to 1.5 ° C, the target legally binding agreement of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

The UK Presidency also hopes to focus on three other areas to achieve climate goals: climate finance, phasing out coal and nature-based solutions.

Scientists estimate that emissions must be reduced by 45% by 2030, from 2010 levels, and from there to net zero emissions by 2050, if the world is to have a good chance of staying within the agreed threshold. in Paris.

The UK and other major players have already agreed that they will not be able to secure commitments for such sweeping cuts from Glasgow’s big emitters.

British diplomats say they are “cautiously optimistic” about overall progress, with a deal to deliver $ 100 billion to developing countries set to be sealed and some progress on a deal to stop deforestation and the destruction of nature. Last week, more than 20 countries pledged to reduce methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

The UK, US and EU have also embarked on a frenzied round of climate diplomacy in a last-ditch attempt to bring key countries to a deal.

But the latest news from the United States and China, the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases, will raise questions about how much progress the meeting can make towards key emissions targets.

America is historically the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases and the US clean energy project was to be the cornerstone of US efforts in Glasgow to push other countries to act faster in the fight against climate change. . Biden called for urgent climate action, a definite 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.

Joe Manchin has financial ties to the coal industry and represents a state where mining still employs thousands of people. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite / AP

But if the president is forced to abandon the supply of clean energy, it can damage international confidence 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 push other countries to make costly efforts to reduce their own emissions.

The electricity sector produces about a quarter of the United States’ greenhouse gases, and the infrastructure program was supposed to trigger a long-term change in the country’s energy sector that would last beyond the presidency of Biden.

He offered incentives for utilities to clean up their energy production and penalties for remaining reliant on fossil fuels.

Manchin, who has said he strongly opposes the clean energy deal, has personal financial ties to the coal industry and represents a state where mining, though in decline, still employs thousands of people.


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