Biden’s Climate Plan Stymied by 1 Senator
Joe Manchin is a crucial vote and is firmly against a clean electricity program that is the muscle behind the president’s plan to battle climate change.,
We’re also covering the upcoming U.N. climate summit and looking at the Dixie fire in 3-D.
Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, has told the White House he opposes the clean electricity program, several officials and lobbyists said.Credit…T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times
By Coral Davenport
The most powerful part of President Biden’s climate agenda — a program to rapidly replace the nation’s coal- and gas-fired power plants with wind, solar and nuclear energy — has been dropped from the budget bill pending in Congress, after Senator Joe Manchin III, the Democrat from coal-rich West Virginia, told the White House that he strongly opposes the program.
Mr. Manchin’s vote is crucial to passage of the broader budget bill, which Democrats are trying to push through with razor-thin majorities in both chambers of Congress.
As a result of his demands, White House and Congressional staffers are now rewriting the legislation without that climate provision, and are trying to cobble together a mix of other policies that could also cut emissions.
But the move comes less than two weeks before President Biden leaves for a major climate change conference in Glasgow, where he is supposed to demonstrate to other world leaders exactly what the world’s largest economy is doing to cut its greenhouse pollution — and to meet his own ambitious target of cutting emissions 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.
Without the clean electricity program, it will be extremely difficult to meet that goal — although, say experts, not entirely impossible. In Glasgow, Mr. Biden is expected to point to the climate provisions that still remain in the package, including roughly $300 billion in tax credits for clean energy programs. And he is expected to promise that he will use his executive authority to enact tough new federal regulations on emissions from cars, coal plants and leaks from oil and gas wells of methane, a powerful planet-warming pollutant. But those policies come with risks, too: they could be struck down by a conservative Supreme Court, or rolled back by a future Republican president.
Mr. Manchin has expressed concern that the clean electricity program could harm the economy of West Virginia, but has said little about the economic toll being felt from inaction on climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are warming the air, allowing it to hold more moisture, which causes more frequent and intense rainfall.
In fact, no state in the contiguous United States is more exposed to flood damage than West Virginia, according to data released last week. Sixty-one percent of West Virginia’s power stations are at risk of flooding, the highest nationwide and more than twice the average. West Virginia also leads in the share of its roads at risk of inundation, at 46 percent.
By the numbers: Mr. Manchin founded a family coal brokerage that paid him half a million dollars in dividends last year.
Wind turbines on the shores of Okhotsky Bay on Sakhalin Island, a Russian island north of Japan.Credit…Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
Russia’s climate contradictions on display on a Pacific Island
By Anton Troianovski
Anton Troianovski is the Moscow bureau chief for The New York Times.
Russia is scrambling to retain the wealth and power that come from selling fossil fuels to the world, even as the Kremlin increasingly acknowledges climate change to be a human-made crisis that the country needs to do more to address.
Last week, President Vladimir V. Putin said Russia would stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by 2060. It was a remarkable reversal since Mr. Putin has long dismissed climate science and many in his country see international efforts to combat global warming as part of a Western plot to weaken Russia. His announcement comes two weeks before world leaders are set to converge in Glasgow for a pivotal U.N. climate summit.
On Wednesday, Dmitri S. Peskov, Mr. Putin’s spokesman, said he would not go to Scotland for the summit and did not explain the decision. Mr. Peskov emphasized that climate change remained high on Russia’s agenda. “The issues that will be discussed in Glasgow right now form one of the priorities of our foreign policy,” he said.
You can read about how fires, disasters and foreign pressure have influenced Mr. Putin’s approach to global warming over the years in my article from earlier this week.
Getting ready for the Glasgow climate talks
A United Nations global warming conference beginning Oct. 31 in Glasgow is considered a crucial moment for efforts to address the threat of climate change.
About 20,000 heads of state, diplomats and activists are expected to meet in person to set new targets for cutting emissions from burning coal, oil and gas that are heating the planet. The conference is held annually but this year is critical because scientists say nations must make an immediate, sharp pivot away from fossil fuels if they hope to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. Here are some key facts to know before they go.
Take part, in-person or online
Join us at The New York Times Climate Hub to explore one of the most urgent questions of our time: How do we adapt and thrive on a changing planet? Tickets at nytclimatehub.com. Climate Fwd: newsletter subscribers can use code CF-50 to save 50 percent on tickets to attend in-person events.
Live: Debating collaborative climate action
The most pressing task for businesses and governments is closing the gap between commitment and action on climate change. How can the fundamental systemic risk that climate change poses prompt a new kind of solution-building? Join The Times and experts on Oct. 21 at 1:30 p.m. E.T. for the debate. R.S.V.P. online here.
Also important this week:
Countries are planning to produce more than twice as much oil, gas and coal through 2030 as would be needed if governments want to limit global warming to Paris Agreement goals, a U.N. report warned.
Michael Regan, the E.P.A. administrator, wants to limit PFAS, often called “forever chemicals” found in everything from drinking water to furniture, that have been linked to cancer. To evade responsibility for polluting, leading chemical companies like Chemours, DuPont and 3M have deployed a potent mix of tactics.
The most important global meeting you’ve probably never heard of happened last week. Countries gathered in an effort to stop a biodiversity collapse that scientists say could equal climate change as an existential crisis.
Costa Rica and the city of Milan were among the first to be awarded nearly $1.4 million, for their sustainability and conservation efforts as part of the Earthshot Prize, presided over by Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.
And finally, we recommend:
Get up close to a firestorm
By Nadja Popovich
California’s Dixie fire has earned many grim superlatives. It’s the largest fire to burn in the United States this year, and the second largest fire in California’s recorded history.
Now, we can add another: The “the most prolific producer” of fire-fueled storms.
Since it began in July, when a small cluster of flames was discovered near downed power lines, the intense blaze has devoured nearly a million acres of land in northeastern California. The wildfire triggered mass evacuations and destroyed thousands of homes, businesses and other structures, including much of the town of Greenville.
Along the way, it grew so powerful that it generated its own weather systems, spawning towering storm clouds, lightning and at least one fire whirl, a spinning vortex of flames.
Dixie’s firestorms weren’t just impressive sights. They created dangerous conditions for firefighters and helped the blaze fuel its own expansion.
A new special project from a team of Times’ journalists and technologists allows you to see one of Dixie’s firestorms up close for the first time, in 3-D.
But Dixie wasn’t alone. Extreme fire weather broke out across the West this year.
It’s not yet clear whether there is a sustained long-term trend toward more fire-fueled storms, in part because the record of these events is still relatively short. But the ingredients necessary for firestorm activity — drier landscapes that support larger, more intense fires; more atmospheric instability, which aids the development of thunderstorms; or both — are becoming more common in many parts of the world as human-caused climate change pushes temperatures higher.
Quotable: “We’re creating an environment that favors these positive feedbacks, where the fire makes itself worse,” said Neil Lareau, an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. “It tips the balance between what may have been an ordinary fire in decades past and a fire that can grow into a megafire.”
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