US President Joe Biden unveils plan to invest $555 bn on green energy
President Joe Biden announced a framework to invest $555 billion in funding on clean energy programs he thinks can win approval from Congress, with investments in renewable power, electric vehicles and resilience.
If Congressional Democrats go along, the plan, part of a $1.75-trillion tax and spending blueprint, would represent a historic investment in fighting climate change that President Joe Biden can tout to world leaders at the high-stakes United Nations climate summit opening Sunday.
The funding could be “the single biggest thing that our nation has ever done to combat the climate crisis and certainly the biggest investment that Congress has ever made in climate and environmental justice jobs by far,” said Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice-president with the League of Conservation Voters.
The framework is also set to provide Biden fresh evidence the US can deliver on its Paris Agreement pledge to at least halve greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by the end of the decade. Tax credits and decarbonisation programmes in the climate measure would complement coming regulations clamping down on greenhouse gases from automobiles, oil wells and power plants — a combination that promises to magnify emissions cuts.
The President had hoped to reach an agreement before attending a G20 meeting in Rome, where a global minimum tax will be high on the agenda, and a climate conference in Glasgow, where Biden hopes to present a message that the United States is back in the fight against global warming.
US Representative Hakeem Jeffries, who chairs the House of Representatives Democratic Conference, said he understood Biden would discuss a planned framework that appeared to have support from all Democratic US senators, clearing a major hurdle.
The plan would encompass “a historic investment in job creation … children and families… protecting the planet… and expanding access to healthcare,” he told MSNBC. Still, it remains unclear whether Biden has the votes needed to pass either the social spending into law or a companion bipartisan $1-trillion infrastructure bill.
Big Oil faces lawmaker grilling on climate disinformation
Executives from Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell and BP face questioning today from US lawmakers probing whether they helped spread disinformation about the origins of climate change. The House of Representatives’s Oversight and Reform Committee plans to quiz executives about what they knew about the causes of global warming and when, and whether they worked to undermine climate-protection efforts.
“These oil companies pay lip service to climate reforms, but behind the scenes they spend far more time lobbying to preserve their lucrative tax breaks,” US Representative Carolyn Maloney, the New York Democrat who chairs the committee, said in a release. “We will demand accountability from Big Oil for their role in fueling the climate crisis and deceiving the public, and we will urge the industry to finally take meaningful action to rein in emissions from fossil fuels before it is too late.”(Bloomberg)
British banks and insurers face climate risk capital crackdown
The Bank of England will crack down from next year on banks and insurers that do not hold enough capital to cover risks from climate change, while also considering bespoke safety buffers. Climate-related financial risks are partially captured by existing frameworks, but there are gaps, the BoE said on Thursday in a report that marks a shift in its thinking.
The central bank already has powers to force lenders and insurers to top up their general capital buffers if climate risks are not sufficiently covered, and it will study whether bespoke company and sector-wide climate buffers are also needed.
“This work will help determine whether changes to the design, use or calibration of the regulatory capital framework may also be needed to ensure resilience against these risks,” the BoE said. It said it would give an update in 2022 after more research and a climate change and capital requirement conference.