The next month is the most important period for U.S. climate action in more than a decade, and possibly ever, longtime advocates and observers tell Axios’ Andrew Freedman.
Why it matters: With scientists issuing more urgent warnings that time is running out to curtail the consequences of global warming, the policy choices proposed through the end of April could reverberate for decades to come.
- “This is the moment those of us who work in this space have been waiting for, for at least a decade,” said Sam Ricketts, a co-founder and senior policy adviser for Evergreen Action.
The big picture: The Biden administration is moving quickly on three fronts to regain international credibility on this issue after the Trump White House pulled the country out of the Paris climate agreement.
- First, the White House is proposing a multitrillion-dollar infrastructure package this week that is aimed at wrapping ambitious climate policy goals into a jobs bill.
- Second, the administration is trying to transform the country’s energy mix through regulations and executive orders, most recently on Monday with the announcement that it would seek to deploy 30 gigawatts worth of offshore electricity generation by 2030. That’s higher than even the most aggressive projections from energy analysts.
- Third, there’s the looming deadline for the State Department to formally unveil the country’s new emissions targets under the Paris Agreement. Known as a Nationally Determined Contribution, or NDC, this will signal to other countries how ambitious and serious the U.S. is about tackling climate change.
The intrigue: The details of the draft NDC are closely held among the teams of special climate envoy John Kerry and White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy. But environmental groups and some Democratic lawmakers are pushing them to be as bold as possible, possibly going as far as a 50% emissions cut compared to 2005 levels by 2030.
- The target that is chosen will send a message to the rest of the world, and possibly spur other nations to be more ambitious in their emissions cuts.
What to watch: The NDC will serve as the strongest signal to date that the U.S. is back to take a leadership role in international climate talks, and a lackluster target — particularly for 2030 — would enable other countries, including China, to emit more planet-warming greenhouse gases than they might have otherwise.