President Joe Biden wants to show at the United Nations climate conference in Scotland that the United States is back in the fight against global warming.
But continued haggling in Congress over legislation to advance its climate goals threatens to undermine that message on the world stage.
Biden leaves for Europe Thursday for a G20 meeting in Rome followed by a rally of world leaders in Glasgow aimed at saving the planet from the ravages of rising temperatures.
Biden had hoped to introduce legislation designed to meet the United States’ commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 52 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels, seeking to provide an example that would encourage d other countries to take bold and swift action to protect the Earth.
The plan includes hundreds of billions of dollars in clean energy investments, but aspects such as a program that would reward utilities for investing in renewables and penalize those that have not. , have been removed from a bill to finance its social and climate change. agenda.
As of Wednesday night, Biden’s fellow Democrats still had not come to an agreement, forcing him to leave Washington without a deal in hand.
While Democrats are optimistic that a deal will be reached in the coming days, the absence of legislation could make it harder for Biden to convince the world he can keep his promises to cut carbon emissions in the United States.
âBeing able to go all the way is key to maintaining credibility on the global stage and influencing other countries to take equally ambitious action,â said Tom Damassa, associate director for climate change at Oxfam America.
One of the bills is expected to expand tax credits for certain clean energy industries such as wind and solar and could include grants and loans for farmers to switch to clean energy. But a carbon tax proposal and border carbon tax adjustment that would add costs to imports of goods such as concrete and steel are likely ruled out.
The Biden administration had sought to end long-standing fossil fuel tax breaks that analysts cost between $ 15 billion and $ 20 billion a year, but that effort was also nearly dead.
White House officials said world leaders understand the legislative process is messy and insist the country can still meet its emissions targets without some aspects of the bills that aimed to make the economy bigger. of the world more respectful of the environment.
The United Nations climate change conference known as COP26 takes place from October 31 to November 12, leaving room for a deal even after Biden returned to Washington on Tuesday.
“If there is no deal and we go all the way (COP26) without a deal, I think it’s really problematic for the credibility of the United States,” said John Podesta, former climate advisor to President Barack Obama.
Biden pulled the United States back into the Paris climate agreement early in his presidency, overturning a decision by Republican President Donald Trump to step down. Months later, Biden announced the U.S. emissions reduction target as part of a campaign to get other countries to set ambitious goals as well.
The White House highlighted a wide range of policies that it says will help meet U.S. goals, including pushing for more electric vehicles and initiatives to boost renewable fuel sources.
“Whether there is a deal this week or the negotiations continue, there will be a lot of energy and enthusiasm for the effort the President is undertaking right now to make bold and far-reaching investments that will allow to keep its commitments, âhe added. Security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Tuesday.
This enthusiasm can be tested in Glasgow.
U.S. climate envoy John Kerry has traveled the world on Biden’s behalf to pressure other countries to set ambitious emission reduction targets and he too was eager to complete legislation for strengthen the American discourse at COP26.
The administration has joined the EU in organizing more than 30 countries, including Canada, Germany and Mexico, to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030 from the levels of 2020. The pact covers 30 percent of global methane emissions.
But back home, legislation to impose a levy on national emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, was in danger of being watered down or reduced.
That could leave it to Biden’s environmental regulators to craft rules to reduce emissions, rules that could be difficult to protect from lawsuits.
Associated Australian Press