Democratic presidents have tried but failed to enact climate change legislation since the Clinton administration. In a year of record-breaking and deadly droughts, wildfires, storms and floods that scientists say are made worse by climate change, Democrats finally hoped to garner enough political support to pass legislation strong climate, even as scientific reports indicate that the window is closing quickly. to avoid the most devastating impacts of global warming.
A major scientific report released in August concluded that countries must immediately stop burning fossil fuels to avoid a future of severe drought, intense heat waves, water shortages, devastating storms, rising seas and ecosystem collapse. To avoid disaster, scientists say nations must prevent the average global temperature from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. But as countries continue to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the average global temperature has already risen by about 1.1 degrees Celsius.
Even as Pelosi pledged in San Francisco to protect these climate provisions, at least four people in Washington close to the negotiations called the clean electricity program “dead.”
Senator Tina Smith, Democrat of Minnesota and chief author of the program, said that while dropping it could win Mr Manchin’s vote on the budget bill, it could cost him – and those of other focused Democrats. on the environment.
“We need to have strong climate action in the Build Back Better budget,” she said. “I am open to all approaches, but like I said, I will not support a budget deal that does not get us where we need to go on climate action. There are 50 Democratic senators and it will take each of our votes to pass this budget.
Mr. Manchin, who has personal financial ties to the coal industry, originally intended to write the details of the program as chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Mr Manchin envisioned a clean electricity program that would reward utilities for switching from coal to natural gas, which is less polluting but still emits carbon dioxide and can release methane, another greenhouse gas. Mr. Manchin’s home state of West Virginia is one of the nation’s largest coal and gas producers.
But in recent days, Manchin has told the administration he is now totally opposed to a clean energy program, people familiar with the talks said.