Biden to unveil steps on climate, but no ’emergency’ designation


The executive action is expected to include new initiatives to bolster the offshore wind industry in the United States.

United States President Joe Biden is set to announce new executive actions on climate change that are expected to address some concerns among his own Democratic Party, but will fall short of fulfilling the demand to declare a federal emergency.

Biden will unveil the latest efforts during a visit on Wednesday to a former coal-fired power plant in Somerset, Massachusetts, that is shifting to offshore wind manufacturing. It is the embodiment of the transition to clean energy that Biden is seeking but has struggled to realise in the first 18 months of his presidency.

Wednesday’s executive actions include new initiatives to bolster the domestic offshore wind industry as well as efforts to help communities cope with soaring temperatures through programmes administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services, The Associated Press reported, citing a White House official.

The trip comes as historic temperatures bake Europe and the United States. At least 60 million Americans could experience sweltering temperatures over the next several days as cities around the US sweat through more intense and longer-lasting heat waves that scientists have blamed on global warming.

The actions that Biden will announce on Wednesday will not include a national emergency declaration to address the climate crisis — something that has been sought by activists and Democratic lawmakers after Senator Joe Manchin scuttled talks last week on a long-delayed legislative package.

An emergency declaration on climate would allow Biden to redirect federal resources to bolster renewable energy programmes that would help accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels. The declaration also could be used as a legal basis to block oil and gas drilling or other projects, although such actions would likely be challenged in court by energy companies or Republican-led states.

Biden promised tough action on climate change in his presidential campaign and pledged in international climate negotiations to cut climate pollution by 50 percent by 2030 and reach 100 percent clean electricity by 2035.

But that climate agenda has been derailed by several major setbacks, including Congress failing to pass crucial climate and clean energy measures in a federal budget bill, record-setting petrol prices, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupting global energy markets.

A Supreme Court ruling last month limiting the federal government’s authority to issue sweeping regulations to reduce carbon emissions from power plants also is undermining Biden’s climate plans.

White House officials have said the option to declare a federal emergency remains under consideration. Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Tuesday declined to outline a timetable for a decision aside from saying no such order would be issued this week.

Heatwave
The US State of Texas was under a heat advisory on Wednesday due to scorching weather [Shelby Tauber/Reuters]

Senator Ed Markey said he was “confident that the president is ultimately ready to do whatever it takes in order to deal with this crisis”.

“I think that he’s made that clear in his statement last Friday, and I think coming to Massachusetts is a further articulation of that goal,” Markey told reporters on Tuesday.

The White House has indicated it wants Congress to take that deal, and Biden will address the climate issue on his own.

“I’m going to use every power I have as president to continue to fulfil my pledge to move toward dealing with global warming,” Biden told reporters during the weekend in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, after the talks between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Manchin were derailed.

Biden on Wednesday will be visiting the former Brayton Point power plant, which closed in 2017 after burning coal for more than five decades. The plant will now become an offshore wind manufacturing site.

A new report says the US and other major carbon-polluting nations are falling short on pledges to fight climate change. Among the 10 biggest carbon emitters, only the European Union has enacted policies close to or consistent with international goals of limiting warming to just a few more tenths of a degree, according to scientists and experts who track climate action in countries.



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