Senator Joe Manchin suddenly backs Biden climate and tax bill - Carbon Brief

2022-07-29 09:13:39 By : Mr. qing zhu

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US senator Joe Manchin, the coal-owning Democrat from West Virginia, has “stunned Capitol Hill by announcing sudden support for president Joe Biden’s top agenda item”, BBC News reports, adding that Manchin “said he now backs a bill to raise corporate taxes, fight climate change and lower medicine costs”. The broadcaster continues: “In a joint statement on Wednesday evening with Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer…[the pair] said it would help the US lower its carbon emissions by about 40% by the year 2030. The bill would devote $369bn to climate policies, such as tax credits for solar panels, wind turbines and electric vehicles, and tackling the impact of pollution on low-income communities.” The Financial Times says the u-turn “paves the way for a major legislative victory for US president Joe Biden ahead of the midterm elections”. It adds: “The agreement includes some of the most significant climate legislation in US history.” It continues: “The bill earmarks $9bn to help people make their homes energy efficient and 10 years of tax credits designed to convert homes to clean energy. It includes $7,500 in tax credits to buy new ‘clean’ vehicles and $4,000 to buy used ones. About $10bn in investment tax credits will be issued to clean technology manufacturing facilities, including factories making electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels.” Politico says the bill “includes the biggest climate spending package in US history, devoting hundreds of billions of dollars to clean energy technologies”.

The New York Times says the deal, if passed, would be “the most ambitious climate action ever taken by Congress”. It reports: “The plan falls far short of the ambitious domestic policy and tax package President Biden proposed last year, but Democrats, looking toward midterm elections that are likely to be shaped by voters’ concerns about soaring costs, pitched it as a targeted attack on the rapid price increases that have socked American consumers in the wallet this year, with inflation running at a 40-year high. The announcement suggested that Democrats could move in the coming days to salvage a major piece of their domestic agenda, which only weeks ago appeared doomed given Manchin’s refusal to quickly sign on.” Regarding Manchin’s about-face, the paper reports: “One possible clue to Manchin’s change of heart came in a line of his joint announcement with Schumer that they had secured a commitment from both Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California that Congress would approve a separate measure to address the permitting of energy infrastructure, potentially including natural gas pipelines, before the end of the fiscal year on 30 September. That could ease the way for a project in which Manchin has taken a personal interest, the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would transport Appalachian shale gas from West Virginia to Virginia.” Reuters reports that backers of the new legislation have called it “transformative”, adding that it has been “highly praised by backers of clean energy” despite being “whittled down from previous versions of the bill”. It quotes Prof Leah Stokes at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who advised Democrats on the bill, saying: “It’s an absolutely transformative package.” It adds: “She said the bill would boost American manufacturing in everything from batteries to solar energy to electric vehicles and contains the largest environmental justice investment ever.” The Washington Post, the Hill and the Guardian are among the many other outlets covering the news.

Meanwhile, the New York Times White House correspondent Michael Shear asks: “Biden is facing crisis after crisis. But are they emergencies?” He adds: “President Biden is under pressure – often from his own allies – to declare national emergencies on issues like climate and abortion that are roiling American culture.”

A frontpage story in the Times reports that UK household energy bills are “on course to almost double to nearly £4,000 this winter and remain above £3,000 a year until 2024, as Russia further curtails gas supplies to Europe”. It says that energy bills are currently capped at £1,971 for a typical household, but that forecasts from energy consultancy BFY suggest this could rise to £3,420 in October and to £3,850 in January. It quotes BFY saying that, because households use most energy during winter, the average customer could be “facing a bill of £500 in January alone”. The paper goes on to say that forecasts from another energy consultancy, Cornwall Insight, suggest “bills would average more than £3,500 this winter and remain above £3,000 into 2024”. It adds: “Wholesale gas and power prices are the main factor determining household energy bills. Prices in Britain and Europe have surged in the past year amid a global gas shortage.”

The Financial Times says the latest energy bill forecasts are “stoking the cost of living crisis and increasing the pressure on the government to act to save millions of families from energy poverty”. It says: “Gemma Berwick at BFY said all households would need to brace for sharply higher bills and that additional government intervention was now essential to help the most vulnerable families.” The paper adds: “Wholesale gas prices are roughly 10 times the normal level over the past decade and have doubled since June, when Russia cut capacity on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany to just 40%.” The Independent, the Mirror and Daily Express all make the latest energy bill forecasts their frontpage splash. Bloomberg and Press Association also have the story.

An editorial in the Mirror says: “Government needs to do more to help Brits as bills go up.” It says “nothing should be ruled out”, including “taking emergency public control of gas and electricity suppliers to operate them in the national interest”. The editorial adds: “Renewables and nuclear power will eventually end dependence on internationally traded gas and electricity but until then we need to take back control of energy bills.”

European gas prices “soared” yesterday, Politico reports, “as Moscow further restricted flows through the Russia-to-Germany Nord Stream pipeline”. It quotes EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson calling the reduction in deliveries “a politically motivated step”. The outlet adds that Russian gas exports to the EU are at about a third of last year’s levels, according to Brussels-based thinktank Bruegel. It says EU energy ministers have agreed to “mandatory, bloc-wide gas rationing in case of winter supply shortages”. Reuters says yesterday’s reduction in Russian gas deliveries is “a further escalation of an energy stand-off between Moscow and the European Union that will make it harder, and costlier, for the bloc to fill up storage ahead of the winter heating season”. The Financial Times “disrupted times” newsletter says: “This morning’s rise in European gas prices of another 12% comes on top of an increase of more than a third so far this week. They now stand at roughly 10 times the price last year before Russia began to restrict supplies.” It adds: “Energy companies, meanwhile, are benefiting from the turmoil, with Norway’s Equinor and Spain’s Iberdrola today both reporting bumper profits. The European oil and gas majors BP, Shell and TotalEnergies, all of whom report earnings over the next week, are generating more money than ever, raising the prospect of large-scale acquisitions to boost their transition to clean energy.” Another Financial Times article reports: “Gas crisis raises recession risk for inflation-hit eurozone economy.”

Meanwhile, Reuters reports: “Italy has enough gas supplies to avoid a supply crunch until the end of the coming winter if Russia were to turn off the taps, ecological transition minister Roberto Cingolani said on Wednesday, adding he did not expect large-scale rationing.” Climate Home News covers Tuesday’s EU deal on cutting gas supplies across the bloc. The Times says: “The imminent drop in gas supplies from Russia is piling pressure on Berlin from home and abroad to extend the lifetimes of Germany’s three remaining operational nuclear power stations beyond their scheduled shutdown at the end of the year…Robert Habeck, the economy minister, said yesterday that he did not rule out the plants’ operation beyond the end of the year under certain conditions.”

Der Tagesspiegel reports that Russia restricted gas supplies via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline on Wednesday morning to just 20% of its full capacity. The paper continues that, on Wednesday afternoon, the Russian gas giant Gazprom announced that Siemens Energy had still not handed over a turbine important for Nord Stream 1. “The delay is the responsibility of Siemens Energy”, said Gazprom representative Vitaly Markelov, notes the outlet. The New York Times adds that in Siemens Energy’s statement, it is said they did not have access to the machines, had not received any damage reports from Gazprom, and assumed the turbines were “operating normally”. The firm added that “the actions of the Russian side are more than obviously politically motivated”, the paper says. According to Handelsblatt, an analysis shows that Germany is prepared for further reduced gas supplies from Russia after institutes have calculated what would happen if Russian gas supplies remained at 20% after yesterday’s reduction. The results show, in the most likely case, there will be no gas shortage in winter, says the outlet, quoting IWH economist Christoph Schult: “If our assumptions come true, there would be enough gas both this winter and next.”

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that Germany approved plans for the government’s special “climate and transformation fund” to invest €177.5bn over the next four years to help accelerate the shift to an economy that’s cleaner and less dependent on Russia for energy supplies. The publication adds that German finance minister Christian Lindner said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had made the need to expand renewables, cut harmful industrial emissions, develop the hydrogen sector and promote electric vehicles “even more topical and urgent”. It says he added that subsidies for energy-efficient buildings will be for the renovation of existing structures and no longer be available for new buildings.

Finally, Associated Press reports that economy and climate minister Robert Habeck has said electric cars “are becoming ever more popular and will need no state subsidies in the foreseeable future”. It notes that their number on the road is rising fast, with the total expected to near 2m this year.

Temperatures in 2021 were “unremarkable”, but “would have been near record-breaking only a few decades ago, showing how the UK climate change, the Met Office has said”, reports the Press Association. It says the latest annual “state of the UK climate” report from the agency covers temperatures, rainfall, sunshine and weather extremes. The newswire says that 2021 was the UK’s 18th warmest on record in a series going back to 1884, but “most of those 18 warmest years have occurred since the turn of the century, and if 2021’s temperature had occurred before 1990 it would have been the second warmest year on record, the Met Office said”. BBC News says that UK sea level rise is “speeding up”, according to the Met Office report. It says they are rising “much faster than a century ago” and that warmer temperatures “are the new normal for Britain”. The Independent says sea levels around the country have risen by around 16.5cm since the 1990s “putting more coastal areas at risk from larger and more frequent storm surges”.

Meanwhile, the Times is among the outlets reporting that England is having its driest July in 111 years, according to the Met Office, with “three quarters less rain falling than average”. The Daily Telegraph says the UK “is experiencing the earliest signs of autumn in 20 years, prompted by the record-breaking heatwave and the driest July since 1911”. It continues: “Extreme temperatures and a lack of water have caused trees to drop their leaves and berries to ripen weeks ahead of schedule.” Sky News says July has so far been the second driest since records began in 1836. The Press Association also has the story.

Separately, BusinessGreen has a comment from Kangkang Tang at Brunel University London titled: “Why UK railways can’t deal with heatwaves – and what might help.”

Yicai reports that “green” energy’s share of the total energy consumed in China will “increase at an average annual rate of 1 percentage point over the next eight years”, according to the National Energy Administration (NEA), the country’s top energy regulator. The Shanghai-based financial outlet says that this increase will “help the country reach its targets for peak carbon emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060”. Zhang Jianhua, director of the NEA, is quoted saying on Wednesday that “non-fossil energy’s share of China’s overall energy use “rose 0.7 point to 16.6%” in 2021”. Additionally, Reuters writes that China’s clean-energy transition will “continue, despite the challenges to global energy security posed by the conflict in Ukraine and a return to coal in Europe”. The newswire says that China “remains on track to meet its carbon goals”, according to “energy officials” on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post carries an article titled: “China ‘confident’ on 2030 climate goal as summer heatwaves worsen global energy crisis.”

There is also continuing coverage of China’s heatwave. Bloomberg writes that “scorching” temperatures are “straining” power grids as the country tries to “ramp up industrial activity to support the economy”, adding that farmers are “scrambling to save crops such as rice and cotton from the impact of the searing heat”. The outlet says that several regions have already reached “record power demand” and have “cut electricity to factories at peak hours to make sure enough is available to keep air conditioners running”. It adds that rice, fruit and vegetables crops in southern China are “at risk of being damaged by the heat, and melting glaciers are causing floods in the cotton-growing regions of Xinjiang”.

Elsewhere, S&P Global Global Commodity Insights writes that China’s market for domestic renewable energy certificates – called Green Electricity Certificates (GECs) – “face growing uncertainty due to existing liquidity issues, lack of coordination with wider decarbonisation and climate policies, and a rising number of competing green power products”. Finally, a separate Reuters article reports that profits of China’s industrial firms in June “grew 0.8%” from a year earlier, rebounding from a 6.5% decline in May, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data on Wednesday. The newswire says that the rebound is “underpinned by the resumption of activity in major manufacturing hubs, but fears of a Covid-19 resurgence have cast a shadow over future factory output”.Your description for this link…

Britain’s National Grid, which operates the country’s gas and electricity networks, has said it expects to be able to meet demand this winter, despite the risk of periods of tight supply due to uncertainty over supplies of Russian gas to Europe, Reuters reports. It quotes National Grid Electricity System Operator’s early “winter outlook”, published today, saying: “While Britain is not reliant on Russian gas to the extent that the rest of Europe is, it is clear that the cessation of flows of gas into Europe could have knock-on impacts [for the UK], including very high prices.” The newswire adds that the system operator “has already secured contracts with operators of some coal-fired power plants to keep them open longer than scheduled to provide back-up electricity if needed this winter”.

The Guardian leads its coverage of the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) report with the line that the firm “asks UK coal power plants to be on standby this winter”. It adds that “consumers and businesses [could be] paid to use less”. Sky News says the UK could face “very high prices” but “the lights will stay on”, citing the ESO winter outlook. The Daily Telegraph says in a frontpage story that Britain “will rely on more imported power supplies to help keep the lights on this winter, National Grid has said”. Bloomberg, MailOnline, the Independent and City AM all have the story. Separately, the Financial Times reports that developers in West London “face a potential ban on new housing projects until 2035 because the electricity grid has run out of capacity to support new homes”.

A group of environmental organisations has written to the BBC to criticise the way it questioned Conservative leadership hopefuls Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak about climate change during a televised debate, the Guardian reports. It says: “Just one question on the environment was asked in the debate, and it put the onus on individuals rather than leaders to act on the climate. The candidates were asked: ‘What three things should people change in their lives to help tackle climate change faster?’” The paper quotes a BBC spokesperson saying: “This debate was designed to interrogate the candidates about their policy differences, their character, and the impact their premiership would have on the general public’s lives, and as such included a question specifically about climate change, couched in the actions we can all take to mitigate its effects.” The Press Association and BusinessGreen also have the story.

The Financial Times “moral money” newsletter asks: “What does Boris Johnson’s exit mean for the UK’s green agenda?” It adds: “Both candidates have been light on detail about their respective climate plans. Monday’s televised BBC debate shed little additional light. Instead of asking the candidates for policy plans on climate change, the host asked them for thoughts on what households should do to help — prompting anodyne remarks on recycling (Sunak) and memories of teenage eco-enthusiasm (Truss).” The Daily Telegraph reports: “New wind farms are backed by the majority of Conservative members, according to a poll commissioned by an environmental thinktank…Leadership hopeful Rishi Sunak has suggested he would not change the rules to make it easier to build onshore wind farms, which can currently be blocked by just one objection during the planning process.” The Guardian notes that the Green party has said “the two candidates…must commit to much tougher environmental targets and policies… as concerns over the climate, pollution and biodiversity have been largely absent from the leadership debates”.

Meanwhile, several outlets cover the candidates plans to tackle soaring energy bills, with Reuters saying Sunak “trailing in the race to become Britain’s next prime minister, pledged on Wednesday to temporarily scrap taxes on energy bills”. It adds that he had earlier “ruled out cutting VAT on energy bills because it would not be a big help to families”. The Press Association says Sunak has been “accused of ‘flip-flopping’” over his about-face on VAT. It adds: “The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said the policy would primarily benefit people with large houses and energy bills, but not the poorest.”

Separately, DeSmog reports: “A charity with ties to senior Conservative MPs [the Global Warming Policy Foundation] has appointed a professor who said protecting the environment was an ‘innovation of the Devil’ and has dismissed the science of human-caused climate change.”

The influential environmental scientist, climate advocate and creator of the “Gaia” hypothesis of life on Earth James Lovelock has died on his 103rd birthday, the Press Association and others report. The newswire explains: “Lovelock was best known for his Gaia hypothesis which suggests Earth acts as a self-regulating organism made up of all its life forms, which humans are severely damaging.” It continues: “He was also a leading voice on climate change and an inventor of creations including a highly sensitive electron capture detector to track pollutants including ozone-depleting CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons).” BBC News reports: “[H]e had warned climate change could be a tipping point for the planet. But his support for nuclear energy and for fracking attracted criticism from other environmentalists.” The New York Times, the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph all have the story.

An editorial in the Guardian says: Russian president Vladimir Putin’s “message of strategic extortion is not subtle: go softer on the war and have a cosier winter; stay tough and freeze” and adds that “European solidarity is just about holding”. The piece says the “long-term solution to this challenge is clear enough. It requires an accelerated transition to renewable energy sources, which has te additional benefit of being something Europe and the rest of the world urgently needs to do anyway in order to avert a climate catastrophe.” Yet the paper warns that “pressures of the short term push in the opposite direction – towards reviving dirty coal-burning power plants and deals with other nasty authoritarian states that have hydrocarbon resources to export”. It adds: “Most dangerous is the way rising fuel bills bolster the school of populist denial that says the transition to green energy is an unaffordable luxury at a time of rising inflation and slower growth.” The editorial concludes: “Putin’s cynical weaponisation of gas supplies makes the case for a new energy paradigm every bit as eloquently as the most passionate advocate of idealistic environmentalism – and in terms that speak to a more conservative audience. There are few win-win propositions in global affairs. But one that could be embraced as a cross-party consensus is the green energy route that simultaneously breaks the Kremlin’s pernicious influence and slashes carbon emissions.” A comment for EnergyMonitor says Europe must “turn the tables on the Kremlin’s gas playbook” by “seiz[ing] the initiative and accelerat[ing] the phaseout of Russian gas”.

In a comment for the Indian Express, Indian vice president M Venkaiah Naidu writes: “The world should wake up to the loss of biodiversity, embrace conservation of ecosystems and resources for future of the planet.” He adds: “India is committed to work proactively to protect at least 30% of our lands, waters and oceans, and adhere to its commitment of 30×30 by 2030.” Naidu also says: “Climate change has often been referred to as the defining issue of our time which has brought about irreversible changes in ecosystems. Caused by human actions, climate change has brought us close to the Lakshman Rekha of ecological balance, which we cannot afford to cross. It, therefore, calls for decisive action on many facets relating to energy, industry, land, transport and urban planning…Global climate efforts to build partnerships to make the transition to low-emission economies and meet the goals and targets set by the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement have to be intensified if the human race has to survive.”

A feature in the New York Times Magazine by ProPublica reporter Abrahm Lustgarten looks at Barbados, the Caribbean island whose prime minister Mia Mottley has shot to prominence at recent UN climate talks. It recounts how “two powerful hurricanes ripped through the Caribbean 12 days apart [in 2017]; they missed Barbados, but one of them obliterated nearby Dominica. In Mottley’s view, that obliteration was ‘like a nuclear event.’ It was increasingly clear that climate change would make all the projects that Barbados already could not afford more necessary – and more expensive.” The piece continues: “The storms revealed that even the most heroic economic planning could be laid to waste in a moment. It was already obvious that every climate crisis was an economic crisis; but going forward, she realised, every economic crisis would effectively be a climate crisis.”

A new study explores how the Arctic Ocean warms through the 21st century in climate models from the sixth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6), Using the SSP5-8.5 scenario, the researchers find that “the upper 2000 metres of the Arctic Ocean warms at 2.3 times the global mean rate within this depth range”. This phenomenon, which the authors dub “Arctic Ocean amplification”, can be attributed to “a substantial increase in poleward ocean heat transport, which will continue outweighing sea surface heat loss in the future”.

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