The United States at the climate summit: the major American stages will not be repealed

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — U.S. President Joe Biden is attending international climate talks in Egypt this week with a message that historic U.S. action to address climate change will not be reversed, like this has happened twice before when the Democrats lost power.

Current and former top Biden climate officials said the vast majority of the summer’s $375 billion climate and health spending package — by far the biggest legislation passed by Congress to combat global warming – has been designed in a way that will make it difficult and unpleasant for future congresses or Republican presidents to reverse it.

Outside experts agree, but say other parts of Biden’s climate agenda may be blocked by a Republican Congress and the courts.

Twice in the 30-year history of climate negotiations, Democratic administrations have helped forge an international agreement, but when they lost the White House, their Republican successors pulled out of those pacts.

And after decades of US promises at past climate summits but little congressional action, the United States has real legislation to point to for the first time. The climate and health bill, known as the Cut Inflation Act, was passed without a single Republican vote, prompting some supporters to fear it won’t stand up to GOP attacks. whether the Republicans take control of the House or the Senate.

Then Tuesday’s elections were heldwith a very thin contest for congressional control.

The results aren’t quite out yet, but the Democrats have shown surprising strength. Sierra Club president Ramon Cruz at Wednesday’s climate summit claimed something of a victory, saying, “We’re seeing in a way that people in the United States actually understand and support climate action. “

If the Republicans take control of Congress, they won’t have a majority without a veto, and even if a Republican takes control of the White House in the next few years, the tax credits will be in place and will boost the industry, said Samantha Gross, head of climate and energy studies at the centrist Brookings Institution.

“There are a lot of tax credits and goodies that make it hard to repeal,” Gross said.

At the climate talks in Egypt, where Biden arrives on Friday, his climate special envoy John Kerry said, “Most of what we do can’t be changed by anybody else who comes to Washington because most of what we do is in the private sector. The market has made up its mind to do what we need to do.

It’s all by design, said Gina McCarthy, who until recently served as Biden’s home climate czar.

“About 70% of the benefits of the Cut Inflation Act are in (tax) credits that directly benefit” industries, McCarthy said in an interview with The Associated Press during the climate talks.

She said it will be difficult for Republicans to “change the dynamic” to significantly undermine the law. “It’s over, it’s beneficial. We have Republicans all over the country doing ribbon cutting. »

Studies show most of the money, new jobs, go to Republican states, said climate policy analyst Alden Meyer of think tank E3G. McCarthy and Kerry are “largely correct” in claiming the law cannot be overturned, he said, and Gross agreed.

Multiple analysts, inside and outside of government, have said the law would reduce U.S. emissions by 40% by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, which isn’t quite the answer. official US target of 50% to 52% reduction at that time.

But McCarthy says, wait, there’s more. She said upcoming but as-yet-unannounced regulations on carbon pollution and progress by private industries, states and cities will allow the United States to meet and even exceed that target, something experts said. exteriors are much more skeptical.

Republicans are likely to push for a big increase in scrutiny of Biden administration policies, including incentives for electric vehicles and loans for clean energy projects such as battery makers, wind farms and solar energy and the production of “clean” hydrogen.

“Republicans are looking for the next Solyndra,” said Joseph Brazauskas, a former Trump-era Environmental Protection Agency official, referring to a California solar company that went bankrupt shortly after receiving more $500 million in federal aid under the Obama administration.

“Congressional oversight is certain to increase significantly” under a GOP-led House or Senate, said Brazauskas, who headed the Trump EPA’s Congressional Relations Office and is now the law firm’s director. Bracewell LLP.

Republicans support many of the tax credits approved under the Climate Act. But they complain Biden is moving too fast to replace gasoline-powered cars with electric vehicles and say he hasn’t done enough to counter China’s influence in the renewable energy supply chain.

Republicans are also likely to investigate the EPA’s actions on climate change, air quality and wetlands, citing a Supreme Court ruling last summer that limited the authority of the EPA. EPA to fight climate change, Brazauskas said. The decision, known as West Virginia v. EPA, “really opened a window for regulatory review at the agency,” he said.

Democrats say they learned important lessons from the Solyndra episode and do not intend to repeat past mistakes. The loan program that helped Solyndra turned a profit and generates about $500 million in interest revenue for the federal government each year.

Even with a Democratic Congress, the Biden administration could not significantly increase climate aid to poor countries. In 2009, the world’s rich nations pledged $100 billion a year to help poorer nations switch to green energy sources and adapt to a warmer world. They didn’t fulfill that promisethe United States giving much less than Europe.

This money does not include the hottest topic of the Egyptian climate talks: loss and damage, i.e. reparations for climate-related disasters. The United States is historically the 1st carbon polluterwhile poorer nations with low carbon emissions bear the brunt of climate disasters, such as Pakistan, where devastating floods submerged a third of the nation and displaced millions of people.

Dozens of protesters called for reparations during a demonstration on Wednesday.

“I think the regulatory agenda is tougher and the international climate finance landscape will be very, very bleak,” Meyer said.

The US government has also released a new draft report on the effects of climate change on America, determining that over the past 50 years the US has warmed 68% faster than the planet as a whole. Since 1970, the continental United States has experienced a warming of 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit, well above the global average, according to a draft of the National Climate Assessment, which is the government’s final report. American on the effects of climate change and represents a range of federal agencies.

The changes in the United States reflect a larger global pattern in which land areas and higher latitudes are warming faster than the ocean and lower latitudes, the report said.

The effects of human-induced climate change on the United States “are already significant and worsening,” the draft report says, but each additional amount of warming that can be avoided or delayed will reduce harmful impacts.

The congressional-mandated assessment was last released under the Trump administration in 2018, and the Biden administration released a draft of the new version this week, seeking public comment and peer review. The final report is expected next year.

Risks from accelerating temperatures and precipitation, sea level rise, climate-fueled extreme weather and other impacts increase as the planet warms, the report says.

“The things Americans value most are at risk,” the report said.


Daly reported from Washington.

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