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📄 "6 Months In: Climate Policy in the Biden Administration"

Energy 360°

Photo by Gayatri Malhotra / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Nikos Tsafos
Guests: Kevin Book | Managing Director | ClearView Energy Partners &
Sarah Ladislaw | Managing Director | RMI
Category: 📄 Climate Policy

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[2:04] SL: “I think the Biden Administration has been enormously ambitious in what they have sought to accomplish during […] the first six months of this administration. […] [Regarding] climate policy […] the Biden administration came in where the Obama administration ended. So if you look at the things they did with the first 100 days, [it’s] the things that it took the Obama administration sort of eight years to figure out. […] They've been […] moving forward with a number of their big ticket items. The most important of which being the sort of domestic infrastructure package, the legislative agenda, which could be a really significant downpayment on what needs to happen in order to mobilize a more quick sort of transition to a clean energy economy.”

[4:41] KB: “I think the way we framed it […] [was that] the Biden administration has 18 months to shape three decades. […] If you look at where they are, the notable absence of a carbon price or any effort in that direction aside, there's really four pokers in the fire. Standards, which are underway […] and those standards undergirded by a social cost of carbon to make them tighter when that social cost of carbon goes up. Incentives, they're working on it with the infrastructure package. […] And then there's a couple things that I think have gotten less appreciated that in many ways have been more significant. The superpowers the White House has include things like export finance, where there's still a great deal of ambiguity about where they stand. […] And then the fourth poker in the fire is the indirect financialization of climate risk, which is […] moving faster, in some ways, I think, then many people might have expected.”

[8:16] SL: “I think […] 50 to 52% emissions reduction […] moves the timetable forward from what is often […] a conversation about net zero by 2050. […] And I think it's really hard to emphasize through processes, like the nationally determined contribution process, what needs to happen today, versus what needs to happen […] several years down the line. And so I think that the idea that the US is going to […] use all of the levers that it has, from the executive branch side, of the equation to be able to reach those targets […] to reduce emissions as quickly as possible [is positive].”

[12:13] KB: “The idea of having a climate summit, where everybody talked about 2030, instead of 2050, or 2060, was a way to bring it into focus to something that actually had immediacy and political relevance. But there's a danger in that. And the danger in that comes in the context of our politics, where if it starts to look like it's really happening, at the same time, that for whatever reason, and often unrelated reason, prices are rising, then the context where this green agenda could get rolled out, which was record low share of disposable income for gasoline, goes away, and you have a yellow vest problem in the way of your green agenda. And so, on the one hand acceleration, and the way they're doing it is extremely bold. On the other hand, they better keep the stimulus coming. So the wallets stay fat enough that Americans don't start to feel a little bit lean when they look at high pump prices.”

[25:11] SL: “The administration has made the environmental justice communities and environmental justice considerations priority. […] It means […] [that] people who represent frontline communities and folks who think about the uneven impacts of climate change, or the sort of consumption of energy resources, or some of our industrial processes, have a seat at the table. […] It is hard to be inclusive about decision making processes on something as complex as climate, but I think what is helpful about it is that it actually better represents a broader set of people who care about this issue. […] The trade off here is if you're more inclusive, more people can represent and support climate policy, which is something we definitely need, but we also need to move quickly. And it's really hard to find consensus among different groups and move quickly at the same time. And so I think that's going to be a big challenge.”

[36:47] KB: “The climate diplomacy process, up until now, has been one of trying to engender inclusion. The orderly world, the diplomats envisioned in the Kyoto Protocol, a top down global Federalists system, which sounded pretty good. […] Everybody follows the rules, everything works. That did not bear out. And then there's been sort of this uncomfortable transition to recognizing that economic sovereignty of nations requires acknowledging that they're probably going to have to call their own shots, and figuring out how you navigate that world.

[37:31] KB: “Always looming in the background was this unstable reality, which is that the emissions trading system in the European Union began in 2005. And they've been bearing the cost that their counterparts haven't been bearing. And at some point, somebody somewhere was probably going to say, hey, wait, why do we keep doing this. And this was that year. […] So the roots of this in Europe go back to 2005, the recent wave of sort of border adjustment enthusiasm goes back to 2017. But to have it wash across the Atlantic so fast to show up in Congress in 2021, is a bit of a surprise.”

[38:42] KB: “This is going to get very, very complicated. Because if inclusiveness brings people to the table, then the idea of punishment drives them away. The idea that there's a global system that is supposed to be the uniting force on which climate diplomacy is built, and that these measures could run afoul of that system means that the very evangelists in the West who are calling for greater ambition, run the risk of undermining their own arguments by undermining the global trade infrastructure on which essentially, the globalization that makes makes climate diplomacy possible is built.”

Rating: ⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 41 min | 🗓️ 08/02/2021
✅ Time saved: 39 min