The House Republicans and Democrats both just released their climate plans. Here's what that means for policy and politics.
Edit: as an update, Republican leaders have disappointed me severely by later clarifying that they don’t really support this stuff. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/energy/daily-on-energy-clearing-up-confusion-about-house-gop-stance-on-net-zero-emissions-by-2050-target?_amp=true&__twitter_impression=true In the midst of several acute crises, a more distant, slow-burning emergency had a whirlwind week in the US House of Representatives. On June 29 and 30 the House Democratic and Republican leadership each unveiled climate plans aimed at reaching the Paris agreement goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This is a significant development for several reasons. Politically, the GOP plan is the most significant instance of a slow return of the Republican Party to addressing climate change. In terms of policy, these plans give us further insight into what the Democrats might do if they win control of the government this year, including what compromises they might make with Republicans.
Here, I will briefly review the politics and policy implications of these plans. I might expand on some of these topics in a Medium post, so hopefully you find it interesting.
Politics: Are Republicans ready to deal with climate again? It might be odd to hear that Republicans are coming out with a climate plan, considering that they are led by a president who has called climate change a Chinese hoax and “expensive bullshit.” While climate denialism has dominated the GOP for several years, there was a time in recent history when both parties recognized climate change as a major issue. In his 2007 state of the union address, George W. Bush announced his support for pursuing investment “to confront the serious challenge of global climate change.” In 2008, Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich declared that “our country must take action to address climate change,” and the leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination all promised to do so.
But then, everything changed when
the Fire Nation attacked Obama tried to pass cap and trade in 2009. For the past decade, significant federal climate legislation has been impossible because an irreconcilable gap existed between the Republican and Democratic positions. Democrats could not modify their proposals to meet GOP stipulations so long as Republicans insisted that climate change was not something to be addressed in the first place.
House Republicans embracing a climate plan is a sign that the irreconcilable gap may be fading. If climate becomes an issue for which Republicans and Democrats offer different responses to a common problem, then compromise is at least possible. As long as Republicans hold some power, it is always good to have the possibility of gaining some of their support for climate action.
As it happens, this plan is not the first recent instance of Republicans beginning to move on climate. Younger Republicans, some members of Congress, and some senior economic policy leaders have quietly been coming around on the issue, which you can read about here. But this plan is still, in my opinion, the most significant development in the past decade because of the shared emissions goal.
I should note here that Republicans have not lined up behind this plan as much as Democrats have behind theirs. But there is significant support nonetheless. This plan has the backing of the House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, as well as the ranking Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee as well as the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. Otherwise, a handful of other House Republicans support the plan, and the group behind the plan has announced that they will roll out support from some Republican senators in the near future.
I should give a shout out to the group behind this plan: the American Conservation Coalition. They are a group of young Republicans (like, just out of college young), and they are becoming the premier American environmental group on the right. I don’t agree with them on a good few things, but I think they do very important work. I say that all as a very partisan Democrat. If you’re a center right type, there’s a lot to like.
On June 30, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats on the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis released that Committee’s comprehensive climate plan. The report gives a good indication of what Congressional Democrats might pursue if their party controls the government next year.
It should be noted that this is not the only major Democratic plan. Others include the CLEAN Future Act from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Joe Biden’s climate plan, and Jay Inslee’s plans (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). But at more than 500 pages, drawing from more than 100 bills, the Climate Crisis Action Plan is one of the most extensive climate plans out there. Environmental policy journalist David Roberts called it “the most detailed and well-thought-out plan for addressing climate change that has ever been a part of US politics.”
The Action Plan is divided into 15 pillars, as follows:
There are several hundred policies in this plan, so I won’t go through all of them. Instead, I’ll describe a few general trends before highlighting a handful of specific policies.
- Infrastructure investment
- Innovation and deployment of clean energy and deep decarbonization technology
- Transform industry and expand domestic manufacturing of clean energy and technology
- Tax reform
- “Invest in America’s workforce and build a fairer economy”
- Environmental justice
- Public health
- Public lands, waters, oceans, and wildlife
- National security
- “American leadership on the international stage”
- Climate science
- “Assess the true value of federal climate action”
- “Strengthen the country’s democratic institutions”
Economy-wide or spector-specific: ¿Porque no los dos? One of the biggest distinctions in climate plans is whether to enact policies across the entire economy or focus on specific sectors. Biden’s plan, for instance, focuses entirely on sector-specific policies, and the same is pretty much true for the CLEAN Future Act. The Green New Deal, while it contains no specific policy proposals, also seems to support this sectoral approach. On the other hand, Obama’s signature proposal, cap and trade, was an economy-wide policy, as was John Delaney’s carbon fee and dividend.
The Climate Crisis Action Plan proposes both broad, sweeping policies and more specific sectoral ones.
To start, the Action Plan calls for a carbon price. It does not specify whether it should be a carbon tax or an emissions trading program, or any specific amounts. This is not for a lack of options. Six carbon pricing bills have been introduced in the House this term. Modelling suggests that these six carbon prices would reduce US emissions between 33 percent and 53 percent, relative to business as usual. So perhaps the Committee didn’t want to choose between different House Democratic proposals, but if one of the currently existing carbon pricing plans is pursued, it would be a valuable part of the overall package.
Another sweeping policy proposed in the Action Plan is a federal clean electricity standard. Specifically, the plan calls for a 100 percent net-zero standard for the electricity sector by 2040, in line with the proposed Clean Energy Standards Act. It’s important to note that this policy is technology-neutral, which allows for both nuclear power and fossil fuels with 100 percent carbon capture. (I cover both of those topics later.) And while this standard would technically only apply to the power sector, it would have significant impacts on the whole economy, especially given the drive for electrification, described later.
Modelling suggests that this clean electricity standard would reduce emissions from the electricity sector by 61 percent by 2035. The electricity sector was responsible for about a quarter of US emissions in 2017, but that is poised to increase with other climate policies. Total demand for electricity may increase by 150 percent in coming decades.
Other than these two economy-wide policies, the Action Plan proposes dozens of sector-specific policies. To review, the main sectors of emissions are electricity, transportation, industry, commercial/residential/buildings, and agriculture. Each of these sectors has specific investments, regulatory actions, and other policies enumerated in the Action Plan either as one of the 15 pillars or as a distinct section of one of the greater pillars.
Clean up the grid, then electrify everything The Climate Crisis Action Plan can be largely understood through the framework “clean up the grid and electrify everything.” In the US, 87 percent of emissions come from energy use, but less than half of that is electricity. And of all the energy sources, electricity (as opposed to gasoline and other liquid fuels) has the greatest potential to be carbon-free. In Washington state, for example, more than 80 percent of electricity comes from zero-carbon sources, compared to only 40 percent of energy overall. So it looks like the best path forward to minimize emissions is to electrify as much of our energy use as we can.
The Action Plan pushes both halves to this puzzle — both “clean up the grid” and “electrify everything.” We already touched on cleaning up the grid with the clean electricity standard and the carbon price, which pressure power utilities to use zero-carbon fuels. The plan also includes numerous other incentives to use clean electricity, including tax credits for wind, solar, and hydropower as well as eliminating oil and gas subsidies. There is also a strong focus on research, design, development, and demonstration (RDD&D)
On the “electrify everything” front, the Action Plan focuses in large part on transportation, the largest non-electricity use of energy. The plan calls for a 100 percent zero-emissions vehicle standard for all new vehicles sold by 2035, and 2040 for heavy-duty trucks. While technically technology-neutral, this would surely favor electric vehicles. The plan also promotes EV charging infrastructure, so as to fix the chicken and egg problem for charging stations.
And of course, there are dozens of policies I couldn’t fit here.
Nuclear The role of nuclear energy is always contentious in climate politics, but I won’t get into the debate (other than to say that your position is probably too certain one way or the other).
Although it doesn’t put as much direct focus on nuclear as it does for renewables, the Action Plan is largely pro-nuclear. It goes out of its way to clarify that nuclear would be covered under its clean electricity standard. And it proposes several programs to support and invest in “next generation” nuclear technologies. But on the other hand, the plan proposes that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission increase the assessment burden on plants seeking license renewals (to ensure they are physically resilient to climate impacts).
But arguably more relevant for the future of nuclear are all the policies pursued in this plan that are not specifically aimed at the nuclear industry. By transforming the energy system, this plan would certainly affect nuclear energy. In 2016, the Department of Energy released a report identifying seven things that would need to happen in order that “where one or several nuclear technologies were being deployed at a significant rate.” The conclusions of that report are listed in the table below along with policies from this plan that would address them.
Nuclear expansion criteria identified by 2016 DOE study
Even though these policies aren’t explicitly proposed to boost nuclear energy, they would have the effect of eliminating the barriers that are holding nuclear back in the current market. This is especially notable given the Democratic Party’s often conflicted attitude on the subject.
|Roadblock for more nuclear ||Action Plan Policy |
|Absence of a carbon price ||Carbon price |
|Technical, cost, and regulatory uncertainties of new nuclear tech ||All new energy policies fill in certainty gaps; RDD&D funding reduces technical issues |
|Waste management and public acceptance ||New incentives for utilities, commission to study |
|Projected market conditions ||(not explained in DOE report, so idk really) |
|Unanticipated intervening events, like accident ||Increased inspections and resilience measures |
|Overnight capital costs ||Grants, loans, and loan guaranties; RDD&D lowers price |
|Electricity markets must recognize the value of carbon-free electricity ||Carbon price, clean power standard, make FERC consider GHG in rate setting |
| || |
Neoliberal favorites: YIMBYism and public transit The Climate Crisis Action Plan contains a few Easter eggs for the fervent urbanists among you. Among other policies, the plan says Congress should double federal funding for public transportation. The Action Plan also calls for incentivizing biking, car-free pedestrian zones, and superblocks
The plan is also surprisingly YIMBY. Let me quote directly:
The United States is facing a housing affordability crisis, particularly in its urban areas as more people move to cities in search of economic opportunities. At the same time, construction of affordable housing in these areas has fallen, often due to zoning restrictions and neighborhood opposition, causing demand to far outstrip supply. The result is rising housing costs in urban centers and displacement of low-income communities and communities of color to more suburban areas, where public transit options may be scarce or insufficient. Housing policy becomes climate policy when it limits households to one choice—cars—to commute and access services. To address this, the Action Plan calls for Congress to pass policies incentivizing the construction of additional higher-density affordable housing near public transportation.
Overlap with the Republican plan In addition to being pro-nuclear (as discussed above), this Action Plan has several areas of overlap with its Republican counterpart. As I will explain later, the GOP plan places much emphasis on carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS), which this Democratic plan proposes to invest in and deploy.
The Republican plan supports “natural solutions” like grassland rehabilitation and reforestation. This Democratic plan expands on that, including a proposal to put 30 percent of US land under federal protection by 2030, and to financially support private land conservation efforts.
The Republican plan is fond of natural gas. While this Democratic plan isn’t really pro-natural gas per se, it is also not fervently anti-natural gas. It proposes some restrictions on the natural gas industry and eliminates gas subsidies. But it also declines to propose a ban on hydraulic fracturing and specifies that gas with carbon capture would be allowed under its clean electricity standard.
Non-climate policies thrown in...for some reason A major criticism of the Green New Deal is that it dilutes its climate policy with irrelevant, controversial social programs. And when making this comparison, we should be clear. Whereas the GND was conservatively 30% non-climate, this Action Plan is overwhelmingly climate policy, at least 98%.
But (unfortunately, in my opinion), the Climate Crisis Action Plan does contain several proposals that are not even remotely climate-related. Specifically, the plan proposes pro-union policies, campaign finance reform, voting rights, federal ethics laws, and “Buy American” standards.
I wouldn’t have put them in there, but I can certainly overlook them considering the overall quality of this plan.
Overall impact The Committee hired a think tank to model the impact of these policies. Based on a subset of the proposed actions, this modelling estimates that the Climate Crisis Action Plan would take the US to net zero emissions slightly sooner than 2050, with net negative emissions in the second half of the century. Hundreds of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives would also be saved annually.
Notably, this model does not consider the carbon price (I’m guessing because they didn’t specify an amount), so the full impact of the proposals would probably be much significantly greater.
You can feel the difference moving from the Democrats’ plan to the Republican proposal. I’m glad that the GOP is engaging with climate policy, but the two plans are just not in the same league. That is the first, most obvious contrast. The Climate Crisis Action Plan is of the caliber one would expect for a total transformation of the economy to avert a permanent global disaster. The American Climate Contract, on the other hand, shows a party just beginning to enter this policy space again after a decade in the wilderness.
Whereas the Democrats had 15 pillars, the Republicans have 4:
Since this plan is so brief, I can go through each pillar individually. I will be able to mention a significant share of the individual policies in this plan, but there will be some I leave out.
- Energy innovation
- 21st century infrastructure
- Natural solutions
- Global engagement
Energy innovation The American Climate Contract is strongly pro-nuclear. However, as I will discuss, it may not fully deliver in concrete terms. The plan proposes to generally reduce regulatory barriers to nuclear and invest in further research. It specifically points to two bills in the current Congress on nuclear research and fuel availability, one of which passed the House.
As I did for the Democratic plan, I’ve lined up proposals from the American Climate Contract against the roadblocks to expanded nuclear generation identified by the DOE in 2016.
So although the Climate Contract is more explicitly pro-nuclear, it offers less policy support to expanded nuclear generation than the Democratic plan. For some roadblocks (notably a carbon price), the Climate Contract offers no policies. And where it does offer policies, they are weaker than their Democratic counterparts. This is most pronounced in the last row, where Democrats offered two policies to make nuclear less expensive compared to coal and natural gas (carbon price and ratemaking) and one to eventually eliminate all carbon-emitting electricity altogether. On the Republican side, the only proposal I could match to that roadblock was the voluntary actions of firms.
|Roadblock for more nuclear ||Climate Contract Policy |
|Absence of a carbon price ||N/A |
|Technical, cost, and regulatory uncertainties of new nuclear tech ||Deregulation, research funding, increased domestic uranium production |
|Waste management and public acceptance ||Deregulation (maybe?) |
|Projected market conditions ||(not explained in DOE report, so idk really) |
|Unanticipated intervening events, like accident ||N/A |
|Overnight capital costs ||RDD&D funding |
|Electricity markets must recognize the value of carbon-free electricity ||Voluntary public-private partnerships to switch to clean energy consumption |
| || |
Aside from just nuclear, the Climate Contract supports energy research in general, once again identifying a specific bill authorizing tax credits for energy research.
The Climate Contract also places emphasis on carbon capture, requiring carbon capture as a condition of coal tax credits and our old friend R&;D grants.
The Climate Contract proposes to increase natural gas exports. This might be an underappreciated point of debate in the climate world. Several years ago, Obama pursued natural gas as a climate solution, only to crack down on the industry with heightened regulations, even though he still thought it was important to emissions reduction. Although natural gas surely contributed to falling US emissions in recent years, environmentalists raise concerns that methane leakage may lead natural gas to emit as much as coal relative to energy produced. Additionally, further committing to natural gas may cause infrastructural inertia, making it harder to later switch to a zero-carbon fuel source.
The only renewable-specific policy proposed by the Climate Contract is the promotion of green tariffs, by which commercial and industrial actors can choose to buy renewable electricity from their utility provider.
Infrastructure One area of overlap here shared with the Democratic plan is investment in energy storage technology. Since renewables — namely wind and solar — are variable, significant storage capabilities will be required if they are to play a major role in our energy mix.
We return to natural gas to invest in carbon capture for gas plants.
We also get some renewable investment, such as microgrids.
Natural solutions Republicans have promoted this area frequently in whatever climate messaging they conduct. Essentially, they want to build up forests, grasslands, wetlands, and ocean habitats to sequester more carbon. Their signature policy here is the Trillion Trees Act.
Global engagement There’s not much substance here. Promote US technology abroad, and send aid for developing countries impacted by climate change. The organization that wrote the American Climate Contract might be the only environmental group that approved of the US leaving the Paris agreement.
Carbon tax The American Climate Contract really wants you to know that it opposes a carbon price. On their FAQ page, they post the following dialogue:
Does the American Climate Contract call for a carbon tax? One word, period at the end.
And in announcing his support of the plan, GOP leader Kevin McCarthy said this:
Conservative plans for the environment, as this contract does, understand that lasting and effective environmental progress depends on American innovation and exporting that technology around the world — not on enforcing debilitating taxes or punitive mandates. So, there’s really, really no carbon price here.
Conclusion I think the biggest takeaway from comparing these plans is that the Republicans and Democrats approach the issue of climate from completely different places. Both of these plans are premised on a common problem: our economy is based on production methods that emit greenhouse gases.
The Democrats aim to change the economy so that it is no longer based on those production methods. They seek to alter price structures and create incentives to push people away from these destructive systems, before imposing regulations to end them entirely.
Republicans, on the other hand, want to modify the existing production methods so that we can continue relying on them without harming the climate. The Republican plan has no intention of eliminating fossil fuels, reducing automobile use, or decreasing energy consumption. Instead, it hopes to discover technological and natural solutions that will let these practices remain, just minus the climate change part.
I hope some of this actually happens.
submitted by thankthemajor
MBTI Type me
**Describe yourself in as much elaborate detail as possible (that still renders you anonymous, or to a level of acceptable comfort)**
- I have been interested in MBTI since last December and gotten several types from the different test that I took, even though I know that it is flawed and will keep retaking in the future. While writing down for this type me post, I ask my friends what do they think of me. My best friend said that I was a cunt, disrespectful, retarded, and a bitch, while my other friend told me that I have an awesome personality with a crazy mind. Even though it is insulting, indeed, I do not respect pretty much everyone in my life. It is because the idea of respect doesn't click with me. Why should I glorify a person with higher status, authority, or older than me? But at the same time, it's not as if I like disrespecting, only if I have a reason to do so.
- If you gave me instructions, I will need more details and information because I will not understand what is the purpose of me doing said instruction. For e.g. Over the call, my colleague told me to attach the email with the pdf file. I will ask, "So why am I doing this?".
- I am a person that can create friends easily, be a listener, but only if I wanted to. Most of the time there is always an ulterior motive for doing so, not including the listening part because it is usually for the betterment of others. In the end, I feel energized and comfortable when alone.
- I frequently joke or mock people and even use my body to express, it just happens. Sometimes I regret doing so.
- Information that I receive or put out will be analysed, but I frequently failed to do so in the area of "putting out" and realise at the moment when I'm experiencing analysis paralysis.
- I have an answer somewhere in my head, but I just couldn't get it out or has a very sensitive conclusion.
- In public places/transportation where many people including me are going to work, I've always wondered how were they able to live this long knowingly that life is just a repetitive cycle of being a slave to the corporation to get a sum of money for them to indulge in their desires to only die in the end. Sometimes I even see them as robots/ants, and pity them. But I'm no different than them. Trapped in these circumstances of life, which I will break lose off.
- I do NOT like tradition and, secretly, religion.
- I do not feel like I belong, and probably will never
- Sometimes I just wanna know what are their thoughts on e.g. politics, humanity, religion
- When a topic is being discussed, it's hard for me to pick a side. And If I do know the answer, it will most probably be controversial so I would not outwardly stand on that opinion to people who can't take it. I am avoidant of unnecessary conflict.
- Listen to many genres of music. The best are usually ones without a lyric.
**Why are you interested in knowing your type?**
I will have a better understanding of how I process my thoughts and what can be improved.
**Do you go to work and/or you in school? If so, what field/occupation/subjects?**
I'm in school. A student in the IT field.
**Describe your upbringing. Did it have any kind of religious or structured influence? How did you respond to it?**
Am born in a religious family. I grew up with religion but was never religious. After some time, It didn't felt right and how everything correlates in my mind resulted in religion being untrue. And so, I became an agnostic atheist.
**Do you need logical consistency in your life?**
**How curious are you? Do you have more ideas then you can execute? What are your curiosities about? What are your ideas about?**
I am generally curious. Only had few ideas that I could think of, and one of the few is usually miles better than the others. My curiosity happens along the line of questioning things that I find a lack of information or intriguing ideas. My ideas are usually about life, politics, humanity, and religion. **If money was not an issue, what careejob would you have?**
Wouldn't want a job in the first place so, jobless.
**Are you a free spirit or do you play by the rules? If so, why?**
Rules are a distinction to be made but not to religiously adhered to. Generally, things that I am scared of is the consequences of breaking the rules, not the rules itself.
**If I asked you to take a shot with a football how would that make you feel? Would you be able to do it well? Would you enjoy it?**
Rejects the request. Am lazy to be motivated in playing sports. I probably will be able to do just average. Maybe I would enjoy it.
**If I asked you to write me an essay, would you enjoy it? What would it be about? How would it make you feel?**
No. I would probably just troll in the writings if I had to give them the essay. But if the essay is to be kept for me, I would write about nothing because my ego won't let me write nice things. Unless there is an emotional surge, probably would have written something.
**Is it okay to crack a few eggs? If it makes an omelette? Do the ends justify the means?**
The analogy seems so weak and impactless. But this is a rather hard question that I even question myself every time of which is more important. The application of this idea is dependant of the situation at hand and its cost.
**Do you put things back in their proper place?**
Around their specific area.
**How do you behave around strangers, acquaintances and friends?**
Strangers, normal and quiet. With Acquaintances, normal, quiet, and if comfortable, a dose of fun. Friends? I'm on drugs.
**Do you have exquisite tastes that you would expend effort or money for?**
Nope. I buy things that are useful or ease my life.
**How do you act when others request your help to do something (anything)? If you would decide to help them, why would you do so?**
I will say, "what?", along with a sigh. Only will help if there is a good reason, or sometimes I felt like it.
**How long do you take to make an important decision? How would you go about it? And do you change your mind once you've made it?**
Not immediate, it will take some time. Research about the decision that I have to make. Usually, I don't because it surely has been thought over many times. Unless I don't see it working out, I will change my mind if how I imagined it to be is wrong.
**If I asked you to design a plan of action, would it be easier to work alone or in a group? Do you ask for others opinion? or stick to your guns?**
Work alone. Ask others for opinions if needed.
**A weekend best-spent looks like ...?**
I am a home person. If asked which I would choose a vacation or home, I will definitely choose home.
**My biggest fears are.....**
Dealing with problems relating to the future that I had planned for, or an idea on how to, but nevertheless the risk it will take for me to push through the obstacles and get towards my goal. I am not a person who wants a simple life, but rather to obtain comfort and acquire much money to settle in a suitable environment for me to live. The reason being that I despise the society and community that I lived in, or rather moving away from a possible future threat which I will be entrapped to the ideology and tradition of my country, and my family. I imagined myself being forced to follow along and stay hidden of my true beliefs and desires, if I ever desire life without friction. Which I will make sure it will not happen.
**How much do you express yourself and what mediums do you do that through? Art? Writing? Talking?**
I never really express myself, but I do express my opinions in talking more than anything else. If anything my expression of true self is hidden and only for me to know. But music takes me to higher level, something of similar of taking drugs. As if me and music have merged together. It usually evokes a certain feeling or idea, sometimes an idea evolves from the music itself and actually not from within(myself).
**Generally, where do you lean politically? Is it every man for himself? Should people be pragmatic? Does the government need to step in and help people?**
Politically, I'm a centrist. I think that every single person should be responsible for their own, not to say that other people should not help at all if they want to. But responsibilities of helping the communities should be heavily regulated and only ones that makes sense should pass through. I am a pragmatic person. Only the inevitable should the government need to step in and help the people.
**Does it matter if something is factually correct for you to believe in it?**
Easy to answer. Yes.
**Are emotions/feelings an important aspect of your life? If so, then why?**
Despite it being irrational, it is still a magical thing to experience.
**How attached are you to reality?**
Ever since young, I never really did connect or manifest myself to physical things. It is just there, reality it is. To me it is more of an unconscious presence or a concrete dream. A life of routine which happens in cycle, which distorts reality itself of being anything real to me, even though they are real.
**How thick-skinned are you? Are you sensitive to criticism?**
I am sensitive to criticism, but outwardly won't show it.
submitted by RuthlessKindred