‘We’re back, baby’: New bill boosts US climate credibility

WASHINGTON (AP) – After moments of dashing hopes that the United States could become an international leader on climate change, legislation poised to pass Congress will revitalize the country’s image and boost efforts to push other nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. quickly

A head-scratching turn of events that has produced a hilarious case of whiplash Among Democrats and environmentalists, it’s a reminder of how domestic politics are intertwined with global diplomacy.

Lawyers feared a breakdown in negotiations last month Reduced efforts in Congress To limit the catastrophic effects of global warming. Now they are excited by the opportunity to celebrate the unprecedented success of the US.

“It says, ‘We’re back, baby,'” said Jennifer Turner, who works on international climate issues as director of the China Environment Forum at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.

The law, which also covers taxes and prescription drugs, including about $375 billion in clean energy development over the next decade and financial incentives to buy electric cars, install solar panels and wean the power grid off fossil fuels. Although the proposals have been scaled back during difficult negotiations, it is the largest investment in climate change in US history and a significant change from years of inaction that has limited Washington’s influence abroad.

The Senate passed the legislation on Sunday and the House is expected to pass it on Friday. Then it goes to President Joe Biden for signature.

Poorer nations are concerned that rich countries like the United States have not met financial commitments to help them combat global warming and transition to clean energy, which the law does not address. But Biden can still point to it as proof that America’s political system can solve the world’s most pressing problems.

“Our ability to have global credibility depends on our ability to deliver at home,” said Ali Zaidi, the White House’s deputy national climate adviser. “We are a fast car. That helps other people go faster and faster.”

After President Donald Trump withdrew From the Paris climate accord, Biden entered office pledging to rejoin the fight against global warming. He set an ambitious new target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – at least 50% below 2005 levels – by 2030 and began proposing policies to get the country on track.

The legislation, which Biden is expected to sign, is estimated to reduce emissions by between 31% and 44%, according to an analysis by the Rhodium Group, an independent research firm. Further regulatory steps by the administration could close the remaining gap.

“It’s good that America is finally trying to get a grip on climate change after years of dragging its feet, and this investment will go a long way toward undoing some of the damage done by President Trump’s administration,” said Mohamed Addo. Power Shift Africa, a think tank based in Nairobi, Kenya.

The move on the bill comes three months ahead of the next UN climate change conference, known as COP27, to be held in Egypt.

“Let us hope that this law is the beginning of more international cooperation leading up to the COP27 summit, where the most vulnerable people will get the support they need,” Addo said.

While the U.S. still faces skepticism, progress in Washington could give White House climate special envoy John Kerry more momentum at the summit in November.

“It puts the wind in his sails, it gives him real credibility,” Turner said. “It will change the whole dynamic.”

Many experts said the US would be empowered to put more pressure on China, India and other countries that have high emissions but are unwilling to reduce them for economic reasons.

“This restores some diplomatic legitimacy to the US as an influential player in international climate negotiations,” said Scott Moore, director of China Programs and Strategic Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania.

Shaik Sengupta, a Washington-based affiliate of the Observer Research Foundation America, a think tank in India, was less enthusiastic.

“Given that the bill is long overdue after years of US climate inaction, many countries may consider it the ‘bare minimum’ of America’s historic and moral responsibility for climate,” he said.

Sengupta stressed that poor nations are still looking to rich countries to meet their $100 billion commitment. For financial assistance to address global warming, there is an issue during international negotiations.

There will be no shortage of other challenges. If Republicans regain control of Congress or the White House, they could unravel Biden’s progress. Supply chains may struggle to accommodate increased demand for equipment such as solar panels and batteries. China’s foreign ministry announced on Friday that the country is breaking up The direct climate talks with the U.S., in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, broke a longstanding rare spot of, if sometimes tumultuous, cooperation between the two countries.

However, experts said China will still take note if the US succeeds in becoming a clean energy powerhouse.

“For some time now, China has led the world in clean energy investment,” said Xizhou Zhou, an expert on climate and sustainability at S&P Global, a global research firm. “They may see this legislation as a competitive move.”

Deborah Seligsohn, an expert on Chinese politics and energy at Villanova University and a former US diplomat in Beijing, said the result could be lower prices globally.

“As the US starts to really invest in things that compete with key Chinese businesses — solar, wind, electric vehicles, batteries — I think you’re going to see Chinese businesses interested in increasing their competitiveness in these industries. Better products and lower prices,” she said.

It can have a worldwide impact.

“Developing countries will see renewable energy prices come down and adoption will increase,” Seligsohn said.

Vibhuti Garg, an energy economist who focuses on India, said U.S. investments in clean energy research could pay dividends in poorer nations that don’t have the same resources to develop new technologies.

“The US can share technology information with other countries, especially the Global South,” she said.

Aditya Ramji of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, said collaboration, including financial support, will be key.

“At some point India and other countries will have to discuss how they can access intellectual property or make it available at a lower cost to take advantage of electric vehicle technology,” he said.

Climate activists said the US legislation was a big step toward climate action. Further progress is needed to put the world on track to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), a goal some scientists say is out of reach.

“We need to fight for political commitments in other countries,” said climate activist Louisa Neubauer, a leading figure in the Fridays for the Future activist movement.

“This is the only way to change from a year of fossil fuel reaction to a year of climate justice,” she said.


Associated Press writers Frank Jordan in Berlin and Sibi Arasu in Bangalore, India contributed to this report.


Associated Press climate and environmental coverage is supported by many private organizations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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