Thanks to Joe Manchin, we’re on the edge of a devastating climate loss

By | October 16, 2021

Bill McKibben writes:

Last night’s scoop from the New York Times was devastating: the paper reported that Joe Manchin had exercised a firm veto over the Clean Energy Performance Plan (CEPP) at the heart of the Biden administration’s climate efforts. “As a result,” the Times story said, “White House staffers are now rewriting the legislation without that climate provision, and are trying to cobble together a mix of other policies that could also cut emissions.”

As Saturday dawned the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post appeared to support the reporting: indeed there had been intimations bad news was coming earlier in the week, when America’s chief climate negotiator started downplaying the chances for real success at next month’s Glasgow climate talks, by walking back expectations of American action. Congress, he said, would eventually “act responsibly,” but “I don’t know what shape it’ll take … or which piece of legislation, it’ll be in.”

It increasingly looks like it won’t have the CEPP at its center. This proposal—worked out in painstaking detail over recent months—would “would reward utilities that increase their clean energy supply by 4 percent a year.” And it would penalize those that do not, which is why it’s so important: it’s really the only thing in the Biden plan with any teeth. The administration will doubtless try to insist that a cobbled-together “mix of other policies” will yield the same emissions reductions. In particular, they will point to massive tax credits for new renewable energy production. But that’s only half the battle. As veteran energy analyst David Victor said, “You need not just to deploy new stuff, but a way to retire old stuff. The combination of the two is key.” He added that the whole Biden program only works if there are sticks as well as carrots. “These tax incentives are carrots. But there’s no more stick.” [Continue reading…]

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