Held back by the American political context, Joe Biden will use his “executive powers” ​​on the climate

Joe Biden announced new measures on Wednesday to fight the climate crisis, as a heat wave suffocates the United States and several European countries. Climate change is “a clear and immediate danger” as well as an “existential threat to our nation and the world”, said the American president.

“The health of our fellow citizens is at stake”, as well as “our national security” and “our economy”, he added, visiting Massachusetts (northeast), on the site of a former power plant highly polluting coal, closed since 2017 and in the process of conversion to wind energy.

Read also: The Supreme Court’s sharp brake on Joe Biden’s fight against global warming

A serious parliamentary setback

“Since Congress is not doing what it should,” lamented the 79-year-old Democrat, who has just suffered a serious parliamentary setback on his environmental reform agenda, “I will use my executive powers.” But he has not – at least for the moment – ​​declared a “climate emergency” as some elected members of his party are calling for, a maneuver whose impact is not very clear but which could grant him additional political powers.

Our children and grandchildren rely on us

As Joe Biden spoke, large parts of Europe were sweltering in the heat wave, and the United States was not spared: around 100 million people currently live there in areas affected by severe heat or excessive heat. “Our children and grandchildren are counting on us. It is not a joke. If we don’t limit (the warming) to less than 1.5 degrees, we will lose everything. There will be no turning back possible, ”said the president again. “We have no more excuses,” he said.

Climate emergency remains an option

The president intends to progress “at his own pace. He has a number of prerogatives he can use” to start, his main climate adviser, Gina McCarthy, explained on CNN on Wednesday. But the White House stresses that declaring this state of climate emergency remains an option.

Among the executive orders presented on Wednesday: additional funds to help protect regions facing extreme heat and measures to boost wind power production in the United States.

In detail, the federal agency responsible for dealing with natural disasters and other emergencies, FEMA, will commit $2.3 billion to help local communities adapt to climate change and its consequences (heat wave, drought, floods, etc.).

The federal government also wants to support less privileged households and poorer residential areas that do not have access to air conditioning, for example by helping some families to pay their electricity bills. Finally, the Biden administration will allow the installation in the Gulf of Mexico of wind capacity that can supply up to 3 million homes with electricity.

Read again: Accused of passivity on the right to abortion, Biden tries to regain control

Back to the Paris Agreement

The White House says it is determined to keep its climate commitments, in particular the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Joe Biden, who returned to the Paris climate agreement left by his predecessor Donald Trump, announced in April 2021 that the United States would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 52% by 2030 , compared to 2005.

But the American president, as on the right to abortion, the regulation of firearms and many other reform projects, is once again experiencing the limits of his power in environmental matters: he does not have a majority outspoken in Congress and the judiciary is against him.

His climate agenda took a hit when Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, whose vote is crucial, said he would not support legislation aiming to move the US economy towards clean energy sources, presumably condemning it to failure.

And Joe Biden faces a Supreme Court that has become fiercely conservative and deeply hostile to any centralized regulation, which has just severely limited the powers of the federal state in the fight against global warming.

Read also: Stephen Marche: “The United States is on the brink of civil war”

Leave a Comment