The U.S. Supreme Court Thursday placed a huge hurdle in the way of President Joe Biden’s push to fight global warming, limiting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate power plant emissions.
It comes over seven months after world leaders pledged action at a climate summit in Scotland.
What You Need To Know
- It's been eight months since global leaders gathered in Glasgow, Scotland for a climate summit, focused on combatting global warming
- In the months since the summit, the war in Ukraine has complicated matters - leaving European nations scrambling for an energy supply to replace Russian oil and sometimes turning to fossil fuels
- Climate experts and activists have expressed some optimism about long-terms efforts the international community is making to combat climate change
- Stateside, President Biden's goals depend on hundreds of billions of dollars in climate investments - but most of those are tied up in the Build Back Better plan, which remains stalled on Capitol Hill
So, has any climate progress been made since last fall’s gathering in Glasgow, and what challenges remain?
In the long-term fight against climate change, an immediate crisis has complicated matters.
The war in Ukraine has sent European nations scrambling to replace Russian oil with other energy sources — including coal, a major producer of greenhouse gasses.
Climate activists, like Cherelle Blazer, call it a setback, but also understandable.
“If we can keep ourselves from being locked into dirty fossil fuels for the foreseeable future, then I don’t mind this little bump momentarily because it’s a humanitarian crisis,” Blazer, who serves as senior director of the Sierra Club’s International Climate Policy Campaign, said.
The Global Stage
Last November, world leaders gathered in Glasgow, Scotland for COP26, an international climate summit.
While there, they made a host of pledges, from reversing deforestation to phasing down coal.
In the months since, though, evidence is emerging that countries are not immediately abiding by their promises.
However, Jackson Ewing with Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions argues this is not necessarily a surprise. He said countries will respond to their perceived needs — at least in the short term.
“In the coal sector, we’ve seen China ramp up its coal mining capacity in the year and in the months since Glasgow, in part in response to its continuing ban on imports of Australian coal, a quota on exports of coal from Indonesia,” he said.
Ewing expressed some optimism about the progress the international community has made overall.
“We see planning, particularly in countries like China that see relatively modest plateauing of emissions growth through the 2020s, followed by quite a precipitous decline from 2030 onward,” he said.
The U.S. and the Climate Fight
Many of Biden’s climate goals depend on hundreds of billions of dollars in climate investments. The money was included in his Build Back Better plan — but that bill stalled on Capitol Hill.
“We are not on the right path. We are thinking about being on the right path … we have all the tools to be on the right path. It really just takes political will,” Blazer said.
Senate Democratic leaders say talks are underway to revive a scaled-down version of the Build Back Better plan, but details are far from completed. With the clock ticking, they have little time.
Biden, meanwhile, continues to publicly tout the need for climate action, pointing to the follow-up climate summit scheduled for this fall in Egypt.
“We have to dedicate ourselves — as we look forward to it - to delivering on existing goals and undertaking additional efforts to boost our progress,” he said at a recent event.