Biden Plan Commits to “Largest Climate Change Effort in US History”

Following negotiations with Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema, two centrist Democratic senators who opposed much of the original Build Back Better bill, the White House said it was convinced that a scaled-down version of the legislation can be passed by both houses of Congress and “put the United States on track to meet its climate goals.”

This proposed framework includes $ 555 billion in incentives, investments and tax credits aimed at boosting the deployment of renewable energies such as solar and wind, as well as tax relief that will provide up to $ 12 billion. $ 500 to people who buy an electric car. The bill will help deploy new electric buses and trucks, build the resilience of communities to forest fires and catastrophic floods, and employ 300,000 people in a new “civilian climate body”.

In total, the White House has said the legislation will cut global heating emissions by one billion tonnes by 2030 and bring the United States significantly closer to its goal of reducing carbon pollution in half of the year. this decade.

The legislation has been significantly curtailed following objections raised by Manchin and Sinema to its scope – Biden needs every Democrat in the Senate to vote for the bill in order to overcome the unified Republican opposition – but the remaining cadre still represent the America’s first and greatest major attempt to address the ongoing climate crisis.

“This is a historic day for people and the planet,” said Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters. “Congress must quickly pass the Build Back Better Act and send it to President Biden for enactment.”

On Thursday, Biden will travel to Europe for crucial UN climate talks to be held in Scotland. The US president said it would be “very, very positive” for the reconciliation bill to be passed ahead of the COP26 summit, in order to bolster US credibility and help convince other countries to do so. more to increasingly fight forest fires, floods and catastrophic heat waves. unleashed by global warming.

This effort was repeatedly thwarted by objections from Manchin, a West Virginia senator with close ties to the coal industry who managed to strike from the bill a system that would have phased out fossil fuels from the power grid. American. This plan was responsible for a third of the emission reductions in the original version of the legislation, analysts said.

The new framework does not include fees paid by oil and gas producers when they emit methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Manchin also opposed this levy in the original bill and rejected a proposal to include a tax or price on carbon emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency, however, is set to regulate methane emissions with its existing powers.

These omissions mean that the legislative framework represents a historic investment in clean energy, but does not include any mechanism to reduce the use of fossil fuels or even reduce the subsidies paid to the oil, coal and gas companies that caused the climate crisis. .

“Given the prime opportunity to cancel billions of dollars in national subsidies for oil and gas polluters, the president and congressional leaders have turned around,” said Mitch Jones, director of policy at Food and Water Watch. “A climate plan that does not directly confront the oil and gas industry cannot be considered meaningful. “

Climate experts, however, stressed that the bill, if passed, would represent a big step forward in the fight against the climate crisis, while specifying that further emission reductions will be necessary to prevent states United and the world spiral into a barely habitable climatic state.

Leah Stokes, an expert on climate policy at the University of California at Santa Barbara, said it would be “great news” if the legislation were passed because “the climate calculations are blunt.”

“Even though we’re fortunate enough to get this bill across the finish line, we need more next year,” she tweeted. “The climate clock is ticking. “

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