US officials hope it puts them in a better position for tough negotiations ahead: the international climate talks in Egypt this fall.
Kerry and Biden now have billions of clean energy legislative investments to tout when they head to COP27 in November, which US lawmakers and experts say is a game changer.
“I think we all felt like we were walking through the desert with no hope of water, and the vultures started circling,” Heather Zichal, CEO of trade group American Clean Power and a former Obama White House climate official, told reporters. to DailyExpertNews. “We are now talking over $360 billion [of climate investment]. It’s really apples and oranges in terms of what you can get.”
But while the bill is being welcomed abroad, there is an overarching sense that the US is simply catching up with its allies after years of inactivity. Pressure has also increased on the US to take financial responsibility for its historic role in the crisis.
“It’s a good thing, of course, but it’s important not to get carried away,” Bob Ward, director of policy and communications at the London-based Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, told DailyExpertNews of the bill.
Ward said the bill addressed the commitments the US had already made to a “degree of credibility,” but what much of the world wants the US to commit to significant climate finance — funds to help the most vulnerable countries cut emissions reduce and adapt to the crisis.
“The issues that are still central to the discussions are not really addressed by this bill — there’s nothing in the bill about international climate finance, which is a little troubling,” Ward said. “Leadership is now required of the rich countries in climate finance.”
Climate finance wouldn’t normally be included in the kind of tax and climate bill Democrats are preparing to pass, and Biden has called for climate finance in his 2023 budget. But the US has a history of curbing international calls for financial instruments. During last year’s talks, the US opposed a loss-and-damage settlement that would compensate affected countries for the damage caused by the climate crisis.
But if the bill passes, lawmakers and experts said it would seriously boost Biden’s ability to meet his international climate commitments. According to the impartial climate think tank Rhodium Group, it would put the US on track to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 31-44% below 2005 levels by the end of the decade. Biden has pledged to halve US emissions by 2030.
“Suddenly we can appear at these conferences with not only rhetorical leadership, but also policy leadership,” Democratic Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy told DailyExpertNews. “It makes it a lot harder for lagging countries to claim that the US talks on both sides of its mouth — and use that as an excuse to sit on the sidelines.”
Tensions between China and the US could overshadow progress
While the bill allocates a historic amount to climate and clean energy, it also seeks to achieve something bigger: competitiveness with China in renewables and manufacturing jobs at home.
But China has cornered the market for manufacturing solar panels and EV batteries, and US lawmakers and experts have long warned that the US will fall behind if Congress does not invest in a domestic supply chain with financing and tax credits.
“China is our rival. They will pay a lot of attention to this and I guarantee they will come out and show that they are going to do even more and better than we can,” Hickenlooper said. . “If you look at how much solar and wind energy China has implemented in recent years, it’s been dramatic. Now they’re going to have to ramp it up even more because we’re going after it.”
Sam Geall, CEO of the China Dialogue think tank, told DailyExpertNews he doesn’t believe US legislation would have had much impact on China’s climate decisions.
“China has its own concerns, such as the fallout from the Russian invasion, macroeconomics, Covid lockdowns and its critical National Congressional Conference in the fall,” Geall said. “Even if there were such a positive shift, I’m not sure it would have such an impact on COP, given the other issues that are distracting and creating tension at the moment.”
Ward warned the US to remain humble ahead of the November summit and to remember how the Trump administration’s whiplash refocused international politics on climate.
“The US is just catching up, and I worry that sometimes the United States has forgotten that the world didn’t stand still in those years of the Trump administration, when things got on with things,” he said. ward. “To some extent, there is a change in the world order, and the US cannot dominate in the same way as before.”