According to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) 2022 climate report, Earth could reach a level of 1.5 °C within two decades, but that is still with a large cut to carbon emissions across the globe. The Biden administration has made large climate goals with urgency, but will they ever be in reach?
On his very first day in office, President Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement, an international treaty focused on preventing and reducing the effects of climate change, as he promised he would do in his campaign. In a statement from April 2021, Biden announced that his administration had a goal and plan to have net-zero emissions economy wide by 2050, with a 50% cut in emissions by 2030. The administrations other climate goals also include having an emission free power sector by 2035, at least half of vehicles being electric by 2030, and all vehicle sales being light duty vehicles by 2030. With some of these goals only being less than ten years away, change needs to happen quick and in large numbers for them to be accomplished. But the IPCC report has proven that this is what needs to happen to prevent harsh environmental damage.
In November 2021, a $1 trillion infrastructure bill was signed into law by President Biden, which included significant amounts for climate-based spending. $65 billion is for clean energy and grid investments, $50 billion was allocated to climate resilience and weatherization, $7.5 billion is put aside for creating a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations to make them more accessible and widespread, and $21 billion is to cap oil and gas wells. Biden’s administration had hoped that the passing of this bill would pave the way for the next step in the climate change plan; Build Back Better.
The Build Back Better legislation, which was introduced to Congress in September 2021, includes the largest federal government investment in clean energy ever. In total, there was $555 billion in climate change spending. These included electric vehicle tax credits, accelerating investment in clean energy sources such as solar and nuclear power, tax credits for those investments, and granting more research on climate change. On November 19, 2021, this bill was passed in the House of Representatives. The Biden administration was looking to also pass this in the Senate while the Democrats were still in control. Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia was the swing vote the administration was hoping to appeal. But recently, he has come out to say that he would not support the bill, which killed it’s any chance of passing in the meantime. Many law makers still want the climate portion of it to be passed because it would support the president’s aggressive climate plans, but this is going to require lots of re-wording and re-allocating many parts of the bill.
Another chokehold on Biden’s climate goals is the Supreme Court. They are in the process of hearing one of the biggest climate change cases in a decade. The basis of the case is a federal regulation the controls the emissions of power plants. Although this policy is not in effect, the constitutionality of it is still in question in this case. In this case, the Supreme Court has the power to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from being able to be in control of how much pollution is being released. If the government cannot control these regulations, then President Biden’s plans will ultimately be stopped in their tracks with no way for them to be implemented or effective. The Supreme Court is currently made up of more conservative leaning justices, which has the Biden administration fearing that they may decide to block the Environmental Protection Agency from having the authority it needs to protect the planet and reach all these goals.
After having a president that moved our country backwards in the fight against climate change, Biden’s plans seem as if they are on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. But with quick and extreme climate pressures constantly rising, the United States needs to have a bigger impact of preventing and controlling climate change than it did before, and Biden’s goals will help us get to where we need to be. The infrastructure bill was a step in the right direction but turned into a dead end for the Build Back Better bill. The necessary power of the EPA is in the hands of a conservative Supreme Court. Will the Biden administration be successful in the plans they have laid out, or will Congress and the Court become too much of an obstacle?
“Fact Sheet: President Biden Sets 2030 Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Target Aimed at Creating Good-Paying Union Jobs and Securing U.S. Leadership on Clean Energy Technologies.” The White House, The United States Government, 22 Apr. 2021, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/04/22/fact-sheet-president-biden-sets-2030-greenhouse-gas-pollution-reduction-target-aimed-at-creating-good-paying-union-jobs-and-securing-u-s-leadership-on-clean-energy-technologies/.
Collins, Paul. “IPCC Climate Report 2022 Summary: The Key Findings.” Selectra, 7 Apr. 2022, https://climate.selectra.com/en/news/ipcc-report-2022#:~:text=The%20IPCC%20report%202022%20warned,help%20prevent%20an%20environmental%20disaster.
Newburger, Emma. “Biden’s Infrastructure Bill Includes $50 Billion to Fight Climate Change Disasters.” CNBC, CNBC, 15 Nov. 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/11/15/biden-signs-infrastructure-bill-how-it-fights-climate-change.html.
Newburger, Emma. “House Democrats Urge Biden to Pass Climate Change Portion of Build Back Better.” CNBC, CNBC, 1 Feb. 2022, https://www.cnbc.com/2022/02/01/democrats-urge-biden-to-pass-climate-change-part-of-build-back-better.html.
Davenport, Coral. “Supreme Court Will Hear Biggest Climate Change Case in a Decade.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 27 Feb. 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/27/climate/supreme-court-will-hear-biggest-climate-change-case-in-a-decade.html.