Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

U.S. climate pledge faces test in Senate with global impact | Ap

WASHINGTON – After the Biden government discussed climate negotiations at UN negotiations in Scotland, the Biden government is now testing whether the divided United States can take the climate path: massive investments in a new era of clean energy through the tightest margins in the Senate drive forward.

The House of Representatives passed about $ 2 trillion in Social Policy and Climate Bill on Friday, including $ 555 billion for cleaner energy, although the legislation is almost certain to be changed by the Senate. What is ultimately expressed in the climate section of the bill will have a lasting impact on America and all of its neighbors on earth, and will help determine whether the United States is doing its promised contribution to keeping climate damage at levels that it is not catastrophically worse than now.

“The problem is, with these storms that come so often, you have to deal with the next one straight away,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who has faced five federal disasters in his six years he led the global oil center on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Turner spoke on the sidelines of the UN conference in Glasgow, where he was one of dozen mayors who urged investment in the climate. After years of storm deaths in intensifying floods and hurricanes from the tropics, Houston residents froze to death in record numbers in a wobbling polar vortex this year.

“And for our vulnerable communities … where people are already on the fringes, it keeps getting a little further down,” said Turner.

In the Senate, the cost-cutting demands of the Democratic Senate Joe Manchin of the West Virginia coal state and the strict rules of that chamber certainly appear to be forcing major changes to the bill. That would spark new disputes between party centrists and moderates, which will likely take weeks to resolve.

If the package is passed by Biden, the US will likely miss Biden’s target of halving fossil fuel emissions by 5 percent by the end of this decade due to its impact on the promotion of clean energy sources and technologies – more precisely, and bizarre, the amount of carbon dioxide that the US will pump by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

This is based on models by researchers at Princeton University and elsewhere, said climate scientist and energy analyst Zeke Hausfeather.

But if Biden’s bill fails in Congress, the United States will likely fall short of its promise by far more, by 20 percent, by 20 percent, according to academic modeling.

The market forces that make renewable energy cheaper and cheaper would still do a lot for the United States, Hausfeather said.

But with that broken promise behind it, it would be harder for the US to “convince countries like China and India to keep their climate commitments … if we can’t keep our own promises,” said Hausfeather, a director at the Breakthrough Institute research center .

The United States has been the world’s largest emitter of coal, natural gas, and oil vapors over time, which change the atmosphere and heat the earth. China, with its reliance on coal-fired power plants, is currently the largest emitter and the US is number 2. India, with its booming population and reliance on coal, will overtake both in the coming decades.

In Glasgow, the Bangladeshi climate negotiator, Quamrul Chowdhury, has been fighting, as he has for years, to get the United States and other major polluters to make the quick, big cuts needed to keep his and other low-lying nations afloat.

After decades of overturning US climate policy with the political parties of the new governments, Chowdhury desperately wanted Congress to seal the deal.

“If it is included in your national law, that will help,” said Chowdhury. At climate conferences, heads of state and government make “promises and commitments, but these are not kept. Promises are made just to be broken. “

The sharpest US climate change of all came from the Trump administration. It pulled the US out of the Paris Agreement, slowed offshore wind projects, promoted oil and gas exploration and drilling. It canceled projects by the Obama administration aimed at promoting clean energy and discouraging coal.

Numerous Republican lawmakers in Congress are now stepping forward to claim a middle ground on climate between Trump and Biden, whose declining popularity casts doubt on Washington’s continued democratic power.

In a conservative caucus founded by Utah Republican John Curtis, Republicans say they know how to divert voters away from fossil fuels and advocate climate policies that encourage the use of natural gas in particular.

They emphasize trees and carbon capture technologies that have yet to be developed to scale to capture climate-damaging emissions.

“We know we have to reduce emissions. Now let’s have a thoughtful conversation about how we’re going to do this, ”Curtis said in a panel with other US lawmakers in Glasgow. “And I think that’s a new place for us.”

Depending on whether a next Republican administration like Trump’s actively opposed efforts to cut fossil fuel consumption, another U.S. pullback in climate efforts could set the nation back a few more percentage points in meeting Biden’s emissions reduction target, Featherhaus said .

But “I think the bigger effect … would be the lack of global leadership on the issue and the (entirely legitimate) impression that the US’s pledges cannot be trusted,” he said in an email.

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