Why Biden’s Climate Plan Is Dead In The Water

By Paul Homewood

 

Let’s take a closer look at the US climate plan;

 

 image

 

Biden’s pledge at COP26 was to cut GHGs by 50 to 52% from 2005 levels by 2030. This implies a cut of 40% from 2020 levels, and an even greater cut from 2019, as last year was artificially reduced by the pandemic.

His main plank in achieving this was a target of making electricity carbon free by 2035. Currently electricity accounts for about a third of total emissions.

As we know, he has been forced to drop his Clean Electricity Program, which was key to this objective. It is consequently hard to see how he can get anywhere near carbon free without this.

In 2019, fossil fuels accounted for 63% of US electricity generation, with wind and solar stuck at 9%. Nuclear, of course, counts as zero carbon, but this will be mostly closed down in coming years.

image

Biden’s Clean Electricity Program was to rely on a system of subsidies and penalties to force utilities to switch from fossil fuels to renewables. Without that, why should utilities change what they are doing now?

The Federal Government cannot mandate such changes or force fossil fuel power stations to shut, as it has no constitutional powers to do so. Instead, these powers are reserved to the States.

Some States may go ahead with decarbonisation on an ad hoc basis, as California is already doing. But these will just be piecemeal changes.

The only other possible option would be some sort of carbon tax, but this would stand no chance of passing Congress as things stand.

Carbon dioxide emissions have been cut by 14% from 2005 levels, as at 2019. This has effectively all come from the power sector. Significantly though, nearly two thirds have occurred through the switch from coal to gas, and just a third from renewables.

chart https://www.eia.gov/environment/emissions/carbon/

 

Outside of the power sector, little progress has been made since 2005. The chart below includes embedded emissions from the power sector. Excluding these, emissions have been pretty much flat.

chart-1

image

https://www.eia.gov/environment/emissions/carbon/

 

The Federal Government does not have the power to ban petrol cars and gas boilers, as the UK is proposing. It is difficult to see therefore how Americans will be persuaded to give these up.

With the Democrats facing electoral wipe out at the mid-terms next November, it does not seem premature to declare Biden’s COP26 pledge as dead on arrival.

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December 20, 2021 at 07:42AM

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