Finally–meaningful US climate progress!

The Trump nightmare is over, and it’s difficult to adjust to good news coming from DC.

On Earth Day Biden announced his plan for US climate leadership. It’s a giant and overdue step in the right direction, but there’s still a huge lift ahead of us. Here are excerpts from some useful news reports on the US Climate Summit:

Jobs and Technology Take Center Stage at Friday’s Summit, With Biden Pitching Climate Action as a Boon for the Economy by Inside Climate News. “We can do this,” Biden told the world leaders attending the virtual event. But it will be a heavy lift to get the world on track in time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

 “We have the technology,” said Sharan Burrow, the general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation with 200 million members in 163 countries. “We have the finances to get the job done.” She added, “There are no jobs on a dead planet. We will work with anybody to build good jobs on a living planet.”

What we saw at the Summit, by Climate Hawks Vote:

We’ve listened to the experts and digested the announcements that came out of the last couple of days. So many pledges! The big United States pledge of a 50 percent reduction in emissions by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, nearly doubled former President Obama’s pledge of a 26 to 28 percent reduction by 2030, and — more importantly — it’s in line with the IPCC report telling us to reduce world emissions 45 percent by 2030. Some takeaways and further reading:

  1. The US is back…mostly. Biden still believes in diplomacy, the old fashioned kind of summit. Pre-COVID, that meant long dinners and longer walks at a posh country estate. Now, it’s harder to manage. And Biden is going to need it as the world approaches the next UN meeting in Glasgow, Scotland this fall; while Canada and Japan joined the US in strengthening the pledges they’d made under the Paris Agreement, China and India refused to announce new targets.
  2. Biden still believes in capitalism. He wants to build an economy around clean energy. That means cozying up to Wall Street, not burning it down.
  3. 100 percent clean electricity is not 100 percent clean energy. And too many leaders and allies blur the distinction between the two. Electricity emissions are dropping (really!), but transportation emissions are rising.
  4. Biden’s team might just get it done. He’s assembled a team of rock stars, beginning with our friends Jigar Shah and Deb Haaland. America’s ambition is even exceeding California’s ambition; during the Obama administration, federal agencies watched California’s lead, but now California is falling behind as Washington steps up the pace.
  5. Or not. Only time will tell whether these pledges translate into meaningful progress.

What you need to know after Biden’s climate pledge by Julian Spector of Canary Media:

The reports were true.

President Biden officially upped the U.S. climate goal Thursday to 50 percent lower emissions in 2030 than we had in 2005. That’s more in line with the science on how to avoid really catastrophic warming. 

If you’re wondering what actions are required to actually meet this new and improved aspiration, Canary Media has you covered. 

Jeff dug into the policies that could add up to Biden’s target, based on research from the folks at think tank Energy Innovation. 

“Our modeling finds that to get the types of reductions we’re talking about, you need more than incentives,” said Robbie Orvis, EI’s director of energy policy design. 

Here’s a taste of those more muscular measures:

  • Force the closure of all coal plants by 2030.
  • Bar construction of new natural-gas plants (absent as-yet-unavailable carbon-capture technologies).
  • End the sale of gasoline-fueled cars by 2035 and diesel-fueled trucks by 2045.
  • Ensure that all new building appliances on the market by 2030 are electric.

The administration will now see what it can enact through infrastructure and jobs legislation and what else it can achieve through regulations. Let the wrangling begin.

Posted by Eric Strid