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COP26: Will Joe Biden come empty-handed?

Shortly before COP26 in Glasgow, there is bad news from the US: The billion-euro package introduced by President Biden, which also includes extensive climate protection measures, has still not been passed. Will the US president, whose first official act was to rejoin the Paris climate agreement, come to the world climate summit empty-handed?

Image: COP26Image: COP26

As a key item in Joe Biden's administration, a multi-billion dollar package of measures has been planned to comprehensively modernize the US. This includes extensive investments in climate protection as well as the country's ailing infrastructure including the power grids.

Now there have been increasing reports in the US media that a crucial part of the package could be cancelled - because Democratic Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia is opposing it (as Windfair reported).

Specifically at issue is the Clean Energy Performance Program (CEPP) - supposed to provide the bulk of greenhouse gas emission reductions. Under the $150 billion program, electric utilities that switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources will be paid for doing so, while those who won't will be fined.

Combined with other clean energy tax incentives, the CEPP would result in far greater reductions in greenhouse gas emissions than any other part of the proposed climate package. President Biden wanted to achieve a transition to 80 percent clean energy by 2030, and the CEPP would make that possible by providing significant financial incentives to rapidly expand renewables and retire coal and gas plants, as Bob Sussman analyzes in The Hill.

But now things look bleak. One of Manchin's criticisms is that most companies have already turned to climate protection and increased the share of clean energy anyway, so in his view it is unnecessary to provide further financial incentives for the energy transition. However, in the U.S., the share of coal-fired power generation rose again last year for the first time since 2014 - driven by high prices for natural gas, as Der Spiegel reported, citing CNN.

The world is using more coal again, and the US is no exception (Image: Pixabay)

The end of the CEPP would cut the bill's potential to reduce CO2 emissions in the power sector by more than a third, according to a new study by think tank Energy Innovation. It would also spell the end for President Biden's 80 percent by 2030 plans.

There is still a glimmer of hope though, as negotiations continue. Thus Senator Tina Smith (Democrat, Minnesota), one of the main authors of the package, hopes on Twitter that a solution can be reached. She said she is "open" to different approaches, but she can't support a bill that doesn't get the US to where the state needs to be on emissions.

No easy task. “The CEPP is not going to happen, and they are working on alternatives, but I don’t know any that have been accepted by Manchin or the White House," a source familiar with the discussions told US broadcaster NBC. So it remains to be seen whether Joe Biden's negotiators will succeed in putting together a package that will make the US president's travel to COP26 worth it.


Katrin Radtke
Joe Biden, USA, emissions, CEPP, Democrats, program, COP26, package, law, Paris Climate Agreement

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