Washington Weekly: November 3, 2021
The Past Week in D.C.
COP26 Updates: This week, the UN-led climate summit began in Glasgow, Scotland. The gathering was the 26th “Conference of the Parties,” a group of the 197 nations that agreed to the United Nations Framing Convention on Climate Change in 1992. In the wake of the UN’s “code red” climate report released in August, the Glasgow summit was seen by many as one of the last chances for countries across the world to come together to agree to more aggressive climate commitments.
- On Monday, the U.N. Secretary General called on all party nations to reassess their climate pledges made during the Paris climate summit and commit to review and update their climate targets every year, not every five years as the Paris agreement outlines.
- During President Biden’s address to the convention, he attempted to reassert the United States’ leadership in tackling the global climate crisis to still-skeptical nations who saw his predecessor remove the U.S. from the global stage.
- On Tuesday, leaders of more than 100 countries agreed to end deforestation by 2030 in order to both preserve forests and rainforests and their natural ecosystems, but also to ensure that carbon-absorbing forests will help slow climate change.
- With the heads of state having wrapped up their speeches by Tuesday, the real work begins today — and over the next 10 days — for diplomats to negotiate tangible climate pledges.
- You can read more about the summit here.
Last Thursday, top executives from some of the world’s biggest oil companies testified in front of congress about alleged efforts to mislead the public about the known climate change impact of fossil fuels.
On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced a set of new policies that will significantly cut methane emissions, a large source of greenhouse gas, from oil and gas operations throughout the country.
In the midst of the ongoing lead crisis, the EPA on Tuesday formally informed Benton Harbor officials that they are in violation of several Safe Drinking Water Act provisions, ordering that they be fixed.
Today, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act failed in the Senate 50-49 after not reaching the 60 vote threshold to overcome the filibuster. Read LCV’s statement here.
Michigan LCV Analysis: What does this mean for Michigan?
Yesterday was Election Day in America. While it was an “off” year for many states, significant elections still took place across the country — including in Michigan, where climate champion and former MLCV board member Abdullah Hammoud was elected the first ever Arab American mayor of Dearborn.
Perhaps the most watched race, and likely the most consequential when looking ahead to next year’s midterm elections, was Virginia’s governor race, where Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe in a state that President Biden carried by more than 10 percentage points a year ago.
Yet one thing seems certain: the failure on the part of congressional Democrats, and the Biden administration, to thus far pass meaningful infrastructure, social policy, and climate legislation clearly hurt their party. A big takeaway for Democrats, and all elected leaders, going into next year’s election should be that the American people want bold legislative action — especially on the issues included in the Build Back Better Act, which remain extremely popular amongst voters.
Despite last night’s results, House leadership is pushing ahead this week with votes on the bipartisan infrastructure bill (BIF) and the Build Back Better Act (BBB Act). Votes are expected to happen before the weekend is over, sending the BIF to the President’s desk and the BBB Act to the Senate where it is unclear how Senator Manchin will vote. The Congressional Progressive Caucus no longer plans to vote “no” on the bipartisan bill, entrusting President Biden to deliver the votes needed on the BBB Act.
The House released the most recent language of the Build Back Better Act this afternoon. While much has been cut from the original bill, many of the climate and clean energy provisions remain. Here is a breakdown of some of what is included:
- A ten-year set of tax incentives totaling $320 billion for clean energy, transmission, vehicles, manufacturing, innovative technologies, and energy efficiency that will save households hundreds of dollars annually and are tied to strong labor provisions and support domestic manufacturing.
- Air and water pollution reductions focused in frontline communities with funding for clean ports, clean buses, trucks and transit, and additional funding to replace lead pipes.
- $29 billion for a Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator that will deliver 40% of investments to disadvantaged communities to help meet the President’s Justice40 initiative.
- $3 billion for community capacity building in environmental justice communities.
- $105 billion in resilience, including climate-smart agriculture ($27.15 billion), climate-smart forestry ($27.15 billion), coastal restoration ($6 billion), urban parks ($100 million), and other community resiliency programs.
- Investments of $110 billion in clean and globally competitive industrial facilities.
- Restoring protections to the Arctic Refuge.
- Reinstating the Superfund polluter pays principle to fund cleanups of toxic waste sites in communities, reducing methane pollution from the oil and gas industry, and provisions to make oil, gas, and mining companies pay their fair share to extract resources from public lands and waters.
- Banning new oil and gas leasing off the east coast, west coast, and Gulf of Mexico.
- Removing more than $85 billion in international fossil fuel subsidies.
As you can see, for all of the significant cuts that took the bill from its original $3.5 trillion version down to $1.75 trillion (cuts that will undoubtedly be felt by low income and working class Americans), over 80% of the climate provisions remain — about $500 billion down from $600 billion. Making climate change the single largest component of the package.
While the BBB Act is far from perfect — and not over the finish line yet — this bill, if passed, should be celebrated for its historic investment in climate change. And, as we learned last night, will likely prove to be good politics, as well.
A Deeper Dive
The world’s 10 biggest carbon emitting countries make up over two-thirds of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Use these charts to see what those countries’ emissions have looked like in recent decades, and how their current climate plans will factor in.
Thanks for reading, stay safe, and have a great week.