Biden’s Climate Agenda After Supreme Court Ruling – Now What? – Forbes
What’s left for Biden? In light of the Supreme Court’s decision in EPA v West Virginia, many are left wondering what is next for the Biden Administration’s climate agenda. It might be hard to imagine, but against all odds there remains a narrow but critical window for the President to cement US action on climate change. It will take a sea change in leadership.
The Supreme Court limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to issue broad regulations to prevent power plants from releasing climate-warming pollution. This ruling will make it harder to achieve the US climate goals and keep global warming below 1.5 degrees.
Yet even more troubling is that this is part of a pattern of backtracking and missed opportunities when it comes to addressing climate change in the United States.
Early in his term, in a move welcomed by much of the world, President Biden pledged to slash America’s emissions by 52% by 2030. Yet, the President’s policy agenda to set the country on a trajectory to meet this goal quickly encountered strong headwinds.
The Reconciliation package initially contained over $500 million for action on climate change. This would have represented a transformational package with wide reaching and essential tax credits for alternative energy and important investments in environmental justice. Yet this legislation stalled repeatedly in the Senate.
In addition, the US has failed to deliver on financing internationally to prepare the world’s poorest countries for the devastating effects of climate change. It is faltering on its commitment to cut back on fossil fuels and continues to support incentives for oil and gas.
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All of this was before the Russian Invasion of Ukraine sent gas prices spiraling across the country, and indeed most of the world. In the months since February 24th, action on climate change has all but disappeared from the Administration’s vocabulary let alone meaningful actions.
To many passionate climate campaigners it looks as if the United States is giving up. Instead of using this crisis to highlight the need to end our reliance on fossil fuels, we seem to be hunkering down.
I am not naive. I know that it will take years to build the kind of infrastructure needed to shift the cogs of the heavily carbon intensive way of life we currently enjoy. To ease the burden for American consumers and the middle class, it is understandable that Biden and even more so his European counterparts are looking to alternative fossil fuels to ensure energy security and stabilize prices. High gas prices tend to be deadly for politicians, especially this close to an election.
Yet two things can be true at the same time. Biden has put a series of measures in place, including most recently price caps with the G7, in an effort to lower energy prices. However, he must also use this moment to show the economic benefits of addressing climate change, and the deadly consequences for ignoring it.
To meet this extraordinary challenge, the President must use every tool and lever at his disposal. Continue to drive regulations. Stop drilling on public lands. Stop subsidizing fossil fuels. Now is the time to make “a whole of government” approach to the climate crisis.
Top of the list, must be to press Congress to do its job: pass reconciliation and other climate legislation NOW. With real leadership, it is still possible to get enough support in Congress to come together on the climate provisions of the President’s Reconciliation package.
We’ve had all the reports and studies to know that we only have this brief window of time to take real action before it is too late. Failure to respond will result in greater rising sea levels, droughts and out of control wildfires with the most vulnerable and marginalized communities bearing the brunt of this devastation.
In times of crisis like those we are presently living through, it is hard to imagine transformational change occurring. Yet, in history, some of the biggest transformations were born from crises. Biden’s hero, FDR, was the perfect example of how a leader in crisis was able to seize the day. There remains time yet for Biden to show himself as the leader we need on climate change. But he must act NOW.