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Global energy crisis, Russia invasion eclipse Biden climate goals

Global energy crisis, Russia invasion eclipse Biden climate goals

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U.S. President Joe Biden announced an additional $800m security package for Ukraine. He made this announcement during a speech at the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, U.S.A., April 21, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Joe Biden, a presidential candidate, made climate change a pillar in his campaign for the White House. He promised to decarbonize America’s economy, stop drilling on public lands, as well as lead the world in a historic shift from fossil fuels.

Biden’s presidency has been a year old, but rampant inflation and war in Europe have forced him to prioritise energy security. His administration released record-breaking amounts of crude oil from strategic reserve and encouraged drillers to pump more to meet demand.

The jarring shift in Biden’s energy policy priorities reflects the difficulties any U.S. administration might face in attempting a sweeping, decades-long reform of the country’s massive energy economy to curb global warming while simultaneously assisting geopolitical allies and keeping consumer prices in check.

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Failing to achieve that balance could have big political consequences for Biden’s fellow Democrats in November’s mid-term elections: conservatives will blame the party if pump prices stay high, while progressives will punish it if it backslides on its climate promises.

“The reality is there has to be short-term costs for long-term gain and I’m not sure this administration is willing to pay the price,” said Ed Hirs, an energy economist at the University of Houston, referring to the political and financial costs of fighting climate change.

Jen Psaki (White House spokesperson) was asked this week by the president if he still believed the U.S. would meet its climate targets despite the headwinds. Psaki didn’t predict success. “We are continuing to pursue it, and we are going to continue to do everything we can to reach it,” Psaki said.

Biden, the world’s largest oil-consumer, had promised to put the nation on the path of zero carbon emissions by 2050, and to transform the power grid to be completely carbon-free by 2035. These lofty goals were his goal to achieve during his first two years as president, while his party held razor-thin majority in Congress. Continue reading

In 2020, only 12% of the energy consumed in the U.S. from oil, coal and natural gas was made up by renewable energy, compared with over 20% in the European Union. Continue reading

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Biden’s multibillion-dollar climate change legislation, which included many of the steps necessary to achieve those goals, was stalled in Congress due to opposition from conservative Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (Republicans) and other Republicans. To pass the bill through reconciliation, Senate Democrats must have the support of all 50 senators and Vice President Kamala Harris.

“He can’t make good on his climate commitments without the reconciliation package,” said Jamal Raad, executive director of Evergreen Action, an advocacy group that helped craft some of the legislation.

“The next weeks are his last chance. His legacy is at stake. We are at a critical moment.

The Build Back better Bill would have put $300 billion into tax credits to producers and buyers of low-carbon energy. It would extend tax breaks and launch new tax incentives for renewable energy. It would also accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to electric vehicles. Manchin, a coal-producer West Virginia has criticized it as too expensive, while Republicans have called it dangerous and expensive for the economy.

Behind the scenes, there is no indication that the White House or Manchin are closer to a massive spending bill deal. Three sources familiar with the discussions say that the two sides aren’t working on a specific timeline and that many of the key details are still unresolved.

Biden also pledged during his campaign that he would stop federal drilling auctions to aid in the fight against climate changes, but this effort was thwarted by a lawsuit from Republican-led States. Continue reading

According to the administration, late last FridayBefore a holiday weekend that it was resuming the public lands lease, although on far fewer acres then originally proposed, after the court ordered.

Meanwhile, the administration has been forced to reckon with a potent mix of soaring global consumer energy demand after the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that has crimped global oil supplies.

The Biden administration imposed harsh sanctions on Russia that have cut off one of the largest oil and gas producers in world. This has caused gasoline to reach record highs last month at $4.30 per gallon, and helped drive up inflation to 40 year highs.

See Also
A general view of underwater fairy chimneys, also known as stalagmites, after the withdrawal of water due to climate change and drought in Van Lake in Adilcevaz district of Bitlis, Turkey, on April 19, 2022. Stalagmites become visible due to withdrawal of water at different points of the coastline within the borders of the Adilcevaz district of Bitlis, which has the longest shore to Lake Van, and varying in length from three to 20 inches, draw attention. The stalagmites, which took thousands of years to form and are seen under water, attract attention from nature lovers and photography enthusiasts as well as scientists. (Sener Toktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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The White House is turning to the fossil fuel industry to help keep pump prices under control. To curb oil prices, the administration tapped the nation’s oil reserves and pleaded with domestic producers for more drilling. It also encouraged everyone, from OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia, to increase production. Continue reading

The Biden administration has taken several executive actions to address climate crisis. These include tightening federal regulations on vehicle emissions and methane leaks, as well as announcing that it would purchase electric vehicles for federal fleets and make federal buildings more energy efficient. It also re-entered into the Paris climate agreement, which requires countries to make more stringent commitments to reduce their emissions over time.

Experts say that Biden will have trouble meeting his climate targets if he doesn’t pass the majority of his climate legislation.

Amy Myers Jaffe, a research assistant and managing director at the Climate Policy Lab at Tufts University said that Biden will likely have to compromise on climate legislation in order to get it through, if it does happen.

She stated that she did not see the bill as a comprehensive bill. “I believe it would be more targeted legislation to address immediate concerns and the interest to make a long-term turn to improve our competitiveness in renewable energy. This is, in the final analysis, the future of U.S. energy technology exports.”

According to reports, White House climate advisor Gina McCarthy will be leaving her post in the next month. McCarthy, a trusted Biden adviser and regulatory expert was supposed to lead efforts to implement climate change legislation. Her departure shows some doubt about the possibility of it passing. Continue reading

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Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw & Tim Gardner; Editing By Heather Timmons & Alistair Bell

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