MIT Technology Review Discusses Bypassing the US Senate on Climate Policy

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

MIT Technology Review are deeply disappointed Biden may not have the numbers to pass the Green New Deal, but they are confident his executive actions, combined with slipping green spending into Covid stimulus bills, will advance their cause.

What Biden will and won’t be able to achieve on climate change

Passing aggressive climate laws will be highly difficult without Democratic control of the Senate. But there are other ways to make 

James Temple
November 6, 2020

Though the counts aren’t finished and the legal challenges could drag on for weeks, Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential election is looking increasingly likely. If he does triumph, it will also be a win for action on climate change. But his ability to push through any sweeping legislation will be seriously constrained if, as appears likely, Republicans retain control of the Senate.

This outcome is far from the landslide repudiation of President Donald Trump’s assaults on environmental policy, science, and pluralism that climate activists had fervently hoped for. Climate change did appear to be a motivating issue in certain regions and races, and a concern for a solid majority of voters. But polling found that the economy, health care, and the coronavirus outbreak were far more important issues to voters than climate change, where they remain sharply divided along partisan lines.

“The potential for Biden to do something big on climate feels, to me, pretty small,” says David Keith, a professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. “The reality is there will be a lot of other priorities for an early Biden administration … and you’re sitting on a pretty weak mandate.”

A Biden administration could still make some progress on climate change. Much of it, however, would have to occur through executive actions and within federal agencies, as was largely the case under President Barack Obama. These moves would have a harder time surviving legal challenges under a Supreme Court that’s just become more conservative, with Amy Coney Barrett replacing the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

But there could still be opportunities to make some longer-lasting progress on climate by passing new laws, observers say.

Notably, there’s broad support for an economic stimulus package amid the pandemic-driven downturn. Such a bill could include significant research and development funding for areas like next-generation nuclear power and carbon capture, removal, and storage technologies, says Josh Freed, who leads the climate and energy program at Third Way, a center-left think tank in Washington, DC. It could also include job training programs for renewables and other clean energy sectors. The Obama administration used economic stimulus in the wake of the 2008-09 recession to direct some $90 billion of federal investment into green industries.

There’s also bipartisan appetite for an infrastructure bill, which could include investments in electricity transmission lines, offshore wind farms, shoreline protections, and other climate adaptation measures.

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To his credit James Temple admitted Biden has a weak mandate. But like many renewable advocates, he seems to believe renewable energy just needs a little bit more. More federal funding. More R&D. More infrastructure. And then it will all start to make sense.

Despite the utter failure of California’s renewable energy programme to deliver reliable energy, and the ongoing Energiewende disaster in Germany, renewable advocates never have to admit they have failed, so long as they can keep throwing ever increasing amounts of people’s money at their lost cause fantasy.

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via Watts Up With That?

November 7, 2020 at 12:36PM

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