• Corinne Atton

The Whitehouse Wants to Lead the Charge to Net Zero But is Congress Onboard?

Late last year, the U.S. government published a manifesto on long-term strategies to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Its opening paragraph says it all: “The science is clear: we are headed toward climate disaster unless we achieve net-zero global emissions by midcentury.”

Balancing doom and gloom with optimism as to opportunities “to build a better economy,” to create jobs, ensure clean air and water, and to “ensure that all Americans can live healthier, safer, stronger lives, the Whitehouse has drawn a line in the sand: “The time is now for decisive action,” and the U.S. is going to lead that charge.


The U.S.’ decision to rejoin the Paris Agreement in early 2021 was without doubt a correct one. This was followed by a Nationally Determined Contribution to reduce net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50-52% by 2030.


The U.S., together with the European Union and partners have since launched the Global Methane Pledge, with the commitment “to take voluntary actions … to reduce global methane emissions at least 30 percent from 2020 levels by 2030.”


We are at a turning point, and this decade through 2030 will be decisive. Mitigating and adapting to climate change presents a transformational opportunity—one the U.S. literally cannot afford to miss.

Technology, innovation, and collaboration will be crucial. The U.S. has committed to facilitate the deployment of new technologies “as rapidly as possible” and promises federal policies to support research, development, and demonstration, including supporting the First Movers Coalition.


These are fine words, but words must translate to action—immediate action—and unfortunately not everyone, domestically, is on board.


To date, President Biden has been thwarted in his efforts to pass the climate legislation that is needed to back up the U.S.' promises. The current plan is to unbundle climate legislation from the draft $2.2 trillion Build Back Better Act, and move forward with a revised plan of attack.


The clock is ticking, and the world is watching … will the U.S. make the progress it needs to before the November mid-terms?


(Image acknowledgement: The Long-Term Strategy of the United States, Pathways to Net-Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050 – Fig. ES-1 on page 4: United States historic emissions and projected emissions under the 2050 goal for net-zero.


Second image acknowledgement: NY Times/REPEAT Project).

 

This blog post is brought to you by Draper & Draper LLC, a law firm devoted to international arbitration, resolution of natural resources and renewable energy disputes, and climate change innovation.