Aug 25, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Schumer: Budget plan key to meeting U.S. goals under the Paris deal

Chuck Schumer.
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Democrats' spending and tax plan and the bipartisan infrastructure package would together cut greenhouse gas emissions almost enough to meet the U.S. pledge under the Paris Agreement, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

Driving the news: Schumer, in a new letter to Senate colleagues, said his office's analysis of the two proposals shows they would put the U.S. on track to cut emissions around 45% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Add in planned executive policies and state-level efforts, and the U.S. will reach its pledge in April under the Paris agreement of a 50% cut by 2030.

Why it matters: The letter lays bare the high stakes of the proposed $3.5 trillion, Democrats-only budget reconciliation plan, which accounts for most of the emissions cuts in Schumer's analysis, and the bipartisan package.

  • It's a clear acknowledgment that the Biden administration's ability to make good on the formal emissions pledge rests heavily on steering major new investments and policies through Congress.
  • That has global repercussions. If Biden officials can show the U.S. pledge isn't a paper tiger, it boosts the chances of successful outcomes at a critical U.N. climate summit this fall.

The big picture: The letter comes as Democrats and the White House are trying the politically tricky maneuver of moving two major and related packages on parallel tracks.

  • One is the bipartisan infrastructure plan, which has various clean energy and climate measures, that already passed the Senate.
  • The other is a $3.5 trillion spending and tax package of health care, social safety net and energy and climate provisions they hope to move on a party-line vote using the budget reconciliation process.

How it works: The emissions projections are based on a review of "best available data from a wide range of organizations that specialize in policy analysis," the letter states.

Per the letter and a short summary of the analysis, about 42% of the total emissions cuts through 2030 would come from two pillars of the reconciliation plan.

  • One is a new system of payments to help utilities greatly speed up deployment of zero-carbon power, combined with fees for companies that don't hit their targets.
  • The other is a package of new and expanded tax credits for various kinds of clean energy projects.

Elsewhere, new consumer electric vehicle incentives provide roughly 16% of the envisioned emissions reductions, and new fees on oil-and-gas industry methane emissions account for another 9%.

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