Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and dozens of members of Congress will gather in Glasgow this week, as COP26 enters its final few days, with no prospect of the US adopting key climate-focused legislation before it ends.
The senior US politicians will fly to Scotland after a few hectic days on Capitol Hill, where US President Joe Biden managed to get his signature infrastructure bill by Congress, but without any of the major climate initiatives he has promised.
Much of it has rather been placed in a second piece of legislation, the fate of which remains uncertain, as moderate Democrats continue to hold out for more information on how it will be paid for.
With days left until the end of the summit, climate activists have expressed disappointment over the lack of firm US commitments. But they hope the presence of so many members of Congress in Glasgow will give them a chance to lead the case for the implementation of Biden’s $ 1.75tn social security package, which includes about $ 550bn of environmental provisions.
Ramon Cruz, president of the Sierra Club, an environmental organization, told the Financial Times: “What happened in Congress this week is not ideal. . . The infrastructure package is not enough, it is not sufficient. ”
“But we know that this is not the end of the road and we must pass the legislation that can change lives. Build Better Back [the social security bill] is such a transformation legislation. ”
Biden has pledged to put tackling climate change at the heart of its domestic agenda, and personally attended the Glasgow summit last week. But his administration disappointed many participants when it refused to sign in to a promise to phase out coal-fired power, to withdraw from the 40-nation agreement with China and India.
The White House on Sunday insisted it remains committed to the climate agenda, pointing out the range of measures in the Build Back Better Bill.
These include $ 300 billion to persuade energy companies to build clean power and build charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, $ 29 billion to help finance no-emissions technology and $ 19 billion in tax cuts to encourage households and factories to install clean technologies such as roof solar panels.
However, after protracted negotiations in Congress, the bill does not include surge initiatives such as a carbon tax or a clean energy standard to force power companies to move away from fossil fuels.
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told CBS News on Sunday: “The Build Back Better plan we talked about has the largest investment in U.S. history to get us to a clean energy economy.”
Massachusetts Democratic senator Ed Markey said Saturday the bill would “unleash a clean energy revolution.”
Klain and Biden both promised over the weekend that they would pass the legislation, after securing an agreement from moderate Democrats that they would vote on it during the week beginning Nov. 15.
But those moderates are refusing to guarantee that they will vote in favor, saying they want to see an analysis by Congress’s budget office on how the bill will affect the U.S. deficit before a final decision is made.
Josh Gottheimer, one of the leading moderate Democrats in the House of Representatives, said on Sunday: “We just want to make sure we get that data, and that we can align it with what we have already received. [from the Treasury and the White House]. ”
Additional Reporting By Leslie Hook
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