World The Infrastructure Bill Won’t Cut It on Climate
These Republicans Are Tiptoeing Toward a Green New Deal
If you had told climate activists a year ago that the country was on the cusp of $25 billion for electric transmission lines and a smart grid, $7.5 billion for charging stations and $3.5 billion to help weatherize the homes of low-income homeowners, they would have been ecstatic. These are the kind of big-bucks investments they’d been pleading for years without much success and now, defying the odds, a bipartisan group of senators working with the White House is positioned to deliver.
Lately, I’ve struggled to fall asleep. For the past two weeks, I’ve watched unprecedented climate disasters strike day after day, and I’ve feared that people would die.
On the last Monday in June, Seattle hitFahrenheit—a new record, way above normal temperatures, usually in the low 70s. In Portland, Oregon, it was even hotter— —causing . Across the West Coast, upwards of died in the heat wave. Later that week, President Joe Biden met with western governors to discuss the scorching the American West. It stretches from Montana through New Mexico and all the way to the coast, affecting almost .
Schumer announces $3.5T spending plan to pair with infrastructure package
Schumer announces $3.5T spending plan to pair with infrastructure package In a late-night announcement Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Budget Committee had reached an agreement to allot $3.5 trillion for a spending package that would complete President Biden’s infrastructure plan. "The Budget Committee has come to an agreement," Schumer told reporters following a closed-door meeting with Democratic lawmakers. "You add that to that the $600 billion in a bipartisan plan and you get to $4.1 trillion, which is very, very close to what President Biden has asked us for," Schumer said.
That same week, Detroit grappled withso severe, it turned highways into swamps. The East Coast baked in its own extreme heat, as Hurricane Elsa headed toward it. Fires in California ballooned . The dramatic finish came on Friday, when a fossil-fuel pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico, lighting the ocean on fire.
July has not since improved: New York City subwaysafter extreme rainfall, the heat waves have continued, and fires across the West have . Just a few days ago, Death Valley likely hit the modern for the hottest recorded temperature ever: 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Scientists have heat waves, drought, wildfires, floods, and hurricanes to the climate crisis. Across the country, these disasters are becoming impossible to ignore.
How climate change fueled the devastating floods in Germany and northwest Europe
“These are the harbingers of climate change that have now arrived in Germany.” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the flooding “a clear indication of climate change” and “something that really, really shows the urgency to act.
They aren’t the only things keeping me up at night. Negotiations over federal climate policy have held me in anxious suspense for months. With 50 Democratic votes in the Senate, Congress has a narrow opportunity this summer to pass the bold climate-investment package that the president proposed at the end of March. His American Jobs Plan lays out a vision to cut carbon pollution byby 2030 through significant investments in climate action. His proposal is extremely encouraging, and I expected Congress to act on a climate bill quickly. Yet the months have dragged on, and Congress has not made progress.
When Biden announced a bipartisan infrastructure bill on June 24, many expected that it would include significant climate investments. As the details trickled out, though, it became clear that very little climate policy was in the bill. Sure, there was spending for public transit, clean water, and transmission lines—all worthy allocations. But the bill would hardly cut carbon pollution, ultimately doing little to stop climate change from accelerating each year.
Angle Vale residents call for urgent infrastructure upgrades as housing boom hits
A former rural township north of Adelaide is becoming a bustling hub, and residents say the infrastructure is failing to keep up. In Angle Vale, 40 kilometres north of Adelaide, 14 developers are working on new housing projects, and a brand-new superschool with capacity for 1,500 students is due to open at the start of next year.But locals say the most basic infrastructure is not keeping up — and with so many more people expected to move into the area, some fear the situation will only get worse.
We cannot address a small sliver of our carbon pollution and call it a victory. We have to tackle this problem at scale. The last chance we had for a federal climate bill was. I’m afraid that Congress will again fail to pass climate legislation that invests at the necessary level. I’m worried that we’ll keep burning time we no longer have.
But we must not abandon hope. “Despair is paralysis,” the ecologist Robin Wall Kimmerer writes in Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. “It robs us of agency. It blinds us to our own power and the power of the earth. Environmental despair is a poison.”
Video: Sen. Markey on infrastructure bill: 'No climate, no deal' (MSNBC)
Activists across the country are pushing Congress and the White House to act. The Sunrise Movement recently held a protest in front of the White House, where more thandemanded meaningful climate policy this summer. The next day, more than were on the National Mall with a similar message. And the advocacy group Fossil Free Media has launched a urging people to call their senators to demand a “big, bold climate bill.”
Carbon Tax, Beloved Policy to Fix Climate Change, Is Dead at 47
It reshaped how the world thought about climate change. But its prized trait—bloodless economic efficiency—won it few friends on the right or left.The death was confirmed by President Joe Biden’s utter lack of interest in passing it.
The White House, responding to this pressure, has indicated that it knows the bipartisan infrastructure deal is not enough. National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy hasCongress to pass a parallel climate package, highlighting clean-energy tax credits, a , and the as key policies to include.
Many Democratic leaders in Congress have also promised to deliver ambitious climate policy this summer. Fourteen Democratic senators have said that they won’t move forward on the infrastructure bill without a tandem climate package—a position that Senator Ed Markey summed up as “.” Almost of the House Democratic caucus has since echoed this call. Crucially, both Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have said that they will deliver climate policy this summer through budget reconciliation—a process that requires only 50 votes.
There are reasons to feel hopeful that we will get a climate bill across the finish line. But will it be big and bold enough to tackle the crisis?
On the campaign trail, Biden pledged to spend $2 trillion on climate. His proposed climate plan adds up to about $3 trillion, if all his proposals are implemented. Many climate activists have called for more spending, fromto . Like debt, climate costs pile up when they go unpaid for decades.
Road planners 'can ignore climate change'
Government guidelines mean road planners can effectively ignore climate change, campaigners say.Transport secretary Grant Shapps has promised a review of £27bn highways policy which will be completed within two years.
Congress must includein a package that passes this summer to get the U.S. on track to meet Biden’s pollution-reduction goal. As an adviser to , a climate-change advocacy group, I’ve been working to determine what a successful and comprehensive climate bill would look like.
In the power sector, I think that the U.S. must hit 80 percent clean electricity by 2030 through a clean-electricity standard and extensions of clean-energy tax credits. These are policies that the White House has consistently championed, and for good reason: They will get us more than halfway to the president’s goal.
While the bipartisan infrastructure framework includes investments in charging stations for electric vehicles, I think that Congress must go much further to clean up our transportation system. We need to rapidly scale up the use of electric vehicles through consumer incentives that bring down their cost. By 2030, we need a majority of cars sold to be electric. This could get us another quarter of the way to the president’s goal.
In the building sector, carbon pollution has increased over the past 15 years. I think that Congress must enact clean-building policies, including grants for domestic manufacturers of electric appliances and consumer rebates for heat pumps and induction stoves. We also need to dramatically scale up federal support for low-income Americans to make sure that they can live in clean buildings and afford their electricity bills.
With these policies and investments in cleaning up the industrial sector, Congress could secure the pollution cuts necessary to meet Biden’s 2030 goal. And it could do so in a way that prioritizes justice, by ensuring that 40 percent of the bill’s investments are allocated for communities facing the worst levels of pollution today.
All of these federal investments will pay us back—in cheaper technology, cleaner air, good-paying jobs, greater equality, and the stable climate we so desperately need. I’ve been working on climate for the past 16 years, and I’ve never seen a summer like the one we’re experiencing now. If Congress spends too little, or passes only the bipartisan infrastructure package, we will continue to head in the wrong direction, and there will be worse summers ahead.
Reporters notebook: Congress' 'August recess' is hardly a vacation .
Every year in August, Congress budgets time to operate away from Washington, but it's far from a vacation.It’s the largest chunk of time Congress budgets each year to operate away from Washington. The concept of such a lengthy block of time away from Washington may be healthy. But concept rarely meets reality. And that’s why the "August recess" is often little more than a mirage.