Former vice chairman Joe Biden would be the subsequent president of the USA, after securing TKTKTKTK electoral votes and beating incumbent President Donald Trump. The Democratic candidate made clear vitality and local weather change a central a part of his marketing campaign, promising to spend $2 trillion on the vitality transition in his first time period.
That spend is a stretch in a political system as polarized because the one in Washington, D.C., nonetheless. Republicans have been in a position to maintain onto a majority within the Senate, making any vital local weather or clean-energy associated laws a non-starter. As an alternative, Biden must depend on government actions and compromises to advance his agenda.
Biden’s plan consists of investments in analysis and growth, reaching 100 % clear electrical energy by 2035 and $400 billion for federal procurement of renewables, batteries and electrical automobiles, amongst different insurance policies.
His marketing campaign has already pledged to pursue government actions together with rejoining the Paris local weather settlement — which the U.S. formally exited on Nov. four — and reorienting the federal authorities’s vitality purchases round clear assets. The administration might additionally regulate greenhouse gases below the Clear Air Act, choose a Democrat to chair the Federal Power Regulatory Fee, set constructing effectivity requirements and require company local weather disclosures.
In fact, any of these strikes can be topic to authorized problem, which might find yourself at a Supreme Court docket dominated by conservatives after the affirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
An unsure path for clear vitality laws
Legislative motion can be extra enduring. However with out a majority within the Senate, Democrats’ choices on that entrance are exceedingly restricted. A bipartisan invoice that might win general assist is extra more likely to characteristic clear vitality insurance policies tucked in amongst a bigger package deal.
In a Biden administration, increasing tax credit is a prime precedence for the photo voltaic and wind industries. These tax credit usually have bipartisan assist, even when they’ve not often been prioritized.
SunPower CEO Tom Werner mentioned an extension of the funding tax credit score is the corporate’s primary coverage aim, and that some extension continues to be possible below a cut up federal authorities. Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO on the American Council on Renewable Power, additionally cited refundability of renewables tax credit and delaying their phasedown within the coming yr among the many post-election priorities of the group’s members, partly to spice up an financial system affected by the coronavirus.
Stimulus laws shall be an early precedence for Congress, and Biden has expressed an curiosity in tying clear vitality to pandemic-related stimulus. Republicans and Democrats struggled to achieve consensus on any stimulus laws forward of the election. Nevertheless it’s doable that they might agree to wash vitality measures, similar to investments in carbon seize and storage and clear vitality infrastructure funding, as a part of a broader aim of revitalizing financial exercise.
ACORE additionally cited the necessity for vital new transmission infrastructure as a longer-term necessity to achieve the buildout of renewables that Biden has promised.
A reversal on Trump-era insurance policies
The vary of actions out there to the Biden administration shall be a lot much less far-reaching than environmentalists had hoped for when Democrats nonetheless had the possibility to seize a majority of Senate seats. However the president could have energy to reverse some Trump administration environmental rollbacks, similar to diminished effectivity requirements and weakened emissions rules.
Whereas Trump’s presidency stalled and reversed momentum for federal clear vitality and local weather coverage, renewable vitality has continued a gentle climb over the previous 4 years regardless of these actions.
Each wind and photo voltaic grew considerably within the final 4 years, edging out a notable quantity of coal-fired energy. Wind grew to become the biggest supply of renewable electrical energy final yr, and the nation’s put in photo voltaic capability has greater than doubled throughout Trump’s presidency.
The identical dynamics of falling prices, economies of scale and elevated embrace of fresh vitality targets by states and utilities are anticipated to drive continued progress for renewables, with or with out federal laws. However Republicans sustaining management of the Senate might set some bounds on how vital that progress might be and whether or not lawmakers can join it with better motion on local weather change.
In step with the U.S. Structure, Biden is slated to be inaugurated on January 20.