Earth Day: Are Biden’s Ambitious Climate Goals Over?

As of: 04/22/2022 05:13 a.m

US President Biden had made the fight against climate change one of the core issues of his election campaign – and thus scored points at the polls. In the meantime, it has become very quiet about his environmental plans.

By Florian Mayer, ARD Studio Washington

These were big goals that Biden announced during the 2020 election campaign. 50,000 charging stations for electric cars should be installed on the country’s highways. Four million buildings and two million houses were to be energetically renovated, also in order to save millions of tons of oil. Last but not least, greenhouse gas emissions in the USA should be reduced by at least half by 2050.

“The measures taken by a Biden government will create millions of jobs and save the environment,” said Biden in a TV duel with then-President Trump.

Russia’s war as an opportunity for Biden’s climate protection

Shortly after his election, Biden brought the US back into the Paris Climate Agreement after the United States had previously turned its back on the deal and the goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. After that it became quiet in terms of climate. Other issues came to the fore: the corona pandemic, historically high inflation and Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine.

Ironically, that could help Biden implement his climate action, says Paul Bledsoe, a professor of environmental policy at American University in Washington. Because the war is making it ever clearer how much energy security is at risk and how the ever increasing energy costs must be stopped, the chances that Democrats and Republicans in Congress will agree on measures that promote alternative energy sources and this also for the long term increase make the view cheaper.

Democratic senator blocks agenda

The Democrats have a razor-thin majority in Congress. One senator who steps out of line is enough to stop plans. Notorious is West Virginia’s Senator Joe Manchin, who made his fortune from coal mining. He helped ensure Biden’s multi-billion-dollar Build Back Better program was torn apart and scaled back—a program designed to boost infrastructure, the energy sector, jobs and the environment.

It’s a package that’s been stuck in Congress for months, pitting Democrats against each other, and one that Republicans are unwilling to support because it comes from Biden.

Sell ​​climate protection correctly

Bledsoe suggests that the climate plans should be decoupled and debated as a separate measure. This is the only way to get all Democrats on board and possibly even make it palatable to the Republicans, including quite a few climate change deniers – if you sell it to them properly:

Don’t argue with climate protection, but with the geopolitical security aspects and the cheaper energy supply for consumers in the long term.

Paul Bledsoe believes that climate protection would then be a nice side effect, which the Republicans also buy. But all of this has to happen quickly. If the Democrats don’t pass climate protection rules now, the party’s losses in the upcoming midterm elections would be even greater than predicted. Biden’s electorate would seeth with anger, and the wafer-thin majority in Congress would then be gone.

Is there a new climate protection package coming soon?

The Democrats knew that too. Therefore, corresponding discussions would already be running in the background. In about a month, a corresponding proposal with climate protection measures will be on the table. Paul Bledsoe is certain that it will be smaller than the previous one, but still worth around 400 billion US dollars.

The question remains: why is Biden simply not addressing this topic on a larger scale? Because he learned from the quarrels of the Democrats in Congress, the repeated shortening of the Build Back Better program. “A disaster,” simply bad politics had been organized by the Democrats.

That is why Biden will only go public with announcements about climate and the environment again when it is certain that all Democrats in Congress will play along.

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