After touch-and-go negotiations, climate emerges as big winner in Biden’s economic framework


By Ella Nilsen, CNN

(CNN) – As the dust settles on Democrats’ $ 1.75 trillion economic framework, the climate has emerged as the big winner.

The framework developed by President Joe Biden and congressional leaders includes $ 555 billion for climate and clean energy provisions. If passed, it would be the largest climate legislative investment in U.S. history and an important step forward for a Congress that has been committed to climate action for decades, as the Global temperatures have risen at an alarming rate.

“We spend more than five times what we spent in the [2009] Recovery Act, and it’s much broader, ”Josh Freed, founder of the Climate and Energy program of the center-left think tank Third Way, told CNN, referring to the $ 90 billion spent on clean energy under the Obama administration. “The Biden administration and the Congressional Democrats have learned a great lesson – that these types of investments can have a huge positive impact on industries, technology and the economy.”

Ultimately, climate action was the biggest policy line in Biden’s framework. White House officials say it will reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by one billion metric tons by 2030. The White House also believes the legislation will put the United States on on track to meet Biden’s Paris Agreement target of 50% to 52% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by the end of the decade.

At the start of negotiations, environmental groups were asking for up to $ 700 billion in clean energy investment. The final bill figure is close to what was originally imagined – no small feat considering that Bill’s turnover has been reduced from $ 3.5 trillion to $ 1.75 billion.

Negotiations in the Senate went unabated for months, with West Virginia Democrat and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Joe Manchin opposing a fundamental climate policy, the d clean electricity. While this program was eventually taken out of the package, other investments were added to make up for it.

A $ 320 billion clean energy and electric vehicle tax credit plan came out of negotiations unscathed. Specifically, the framework includes substantial tax credits for electric vehicles; up to $ 12,500 if Americans buy an electric vehicle made in the United States with American materials and by unionized workers. The plan would also expand existing residential energy and energy efficiency tax credits and create a new rebate program focused on electrification.

It also includes the first-ever Civilian Climate Corps of 300,000 people to conserve public lands and help the United States be more resilient against climate impacts – and promises that Corps jobs will be union jobs. And it includes a new clean energy and sustainability accelerator, otherwise known as the Green Bank, to leverage private finance to issue loans for clean energy projects across the country.

“I think the leadership of Congress and the White House have gone to great lengths to make up for some of the lost pollution reductions” through the clean electricity program, said Leah Stokes, senior policy adviser at Evergreen and associate professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “It will be an ongoing effort to really make sure that we move forward in the electricity business at the pace that we need to. Tax credits are going to do a lot of work in that regard.”

Although the framework has been announced and draft legislation is circulating in Congress, lawmakers have yet to vote. Manchin did not explicitly endorse the framework, and it is unclear exactly when the bill might pass along with Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Democrats in the House and Senate have said their goal now is to ensure that no further climate provisions are removed from the $ 555 billion turnover, and House progressives are pushing for it. ensure both bills are passed at the same time, asserting that they cannot have one without the other.

“I think overall the progressives are quite willing to support the framework and are willing to work to get it passed, which is a pretty good place because there is a lot of tradeoff there,” Rep. Ro Khanna of California, a leader in the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told CNN.

Boost for Biden in climate talks

Former U.S. climate officials told CNN that while the framework is not yet codified, it gives Biden and U.S. special climate envoy John Kerry clout in upcoming international climate negotiations at Glasgow, Scotland, allowing them to point to a roadmap of future clean energy investments.

Speaking to reporters at an international conference in Rome on Thursday, John Podesta, a former senior Obama climate official and co-founder of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, said international officials were on the lookout for the latest developments in Congress. He said the package, if passed, shows Biden delivering on his promise to be a global climate leader.

Former US climate envoy Todd Stern, who served in the Obama administration, told CNN that the US is going “to Glasgow in a strong enough position with a very good target” and that the package is “Legitimately, by far, the biggest climate change bill ever.” “

“I think you can look at this package and say, ‘This puts us on the right track; that might not guarantee it, “” Stern said.

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