Jul 25, 2019

Flurry of climate-change bills incoming

Several bills that aim to tackle climate change are surfacing as lawmakers scramble before their August congressional break.

Why it matters: While none of the measures is likely to pass any time soon (if ever), they’re nonetheless a sign of the increasing saliency of climate change among politicians, particularly Democrats, but, in a slowly shifting trend, Republicans, too.

Driving the news:

  1. Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) are introducing a bill to address emissions from the industrial sector (think cement factories).
  2. Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) is introducing on Thursday legislation that taxes carbon emissions and uses most of the money raised to lower payroll taxes. He has previously backed similar bills.
  3. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) is also introducing a bill Thursday that taxes carbon emissions.
  4. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), is planning to introduce a carbon tax bill in September, according to his office.

But, but, but: As I wrote in April, most of these types of big measures are unlikely to become law anytime soon given that Republican lawmakers, and President Trump, typically dismiss the issue, and they control much of Washington right now.

  • Instead, these bills are a sign of a debate, long relegated to Washington’s back burner, re-emerging. Whether that translates into actual policy passing is a big open question — and probably on hold until after the 2020 presidential contest.

Go deeper: The Democrats’ plan to have a climate plan

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New working paper makes case for "modest" carbon taxes

Data: Knittel, 2019; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

Even "modest" carbon taxes, like those seen in the chart above, would cut emissions as much as the Obama-era vehicle and power plant rules that President Trump is abandoning, an MIT economist found in a new working paper.

Why it matters: The results "underscore the economic power of a carbon tax" compared to "economically inefficient" regulations, writes Christopher Knittel, who directs the MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.

Go deeperArrowAug 16, 2019

China's carbon emissions may peak as soon as 2021

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Carbon emissions from China could peak as soon as 2021, which is nine years before the voluntary deadline in their Paris agreement pledge, a new peer-reviewed study finds.

Why it matters: China is by far the world's largest carbon emitter. The trajectory of its emissions affect whether the world has any chance of meeting the Paris temperature goals — or, more likely, how much they're overshot.

Go deeperArrowJul 30, 2019

A push from Congress could help advance carbon management tech

A direct air capture project site outside Reykjavik, Iceland. Photo: Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

As the risks of climate change mount, the U.S. continues to lag behind other parts of the world, especially Europe, in funding R&D for carbon management and other innovative technologies.

The big picture: Government leadership could help fund early-stage research and spur private sector investment in a potentially $1 trillion market. Congress is aiming to advance this goal through several new bills — including the Senate's EFFECT Act, which would establish a Department of Energy program to use carbon dioxide as a resource for profitable products.

Go deeperArrowAug 2, 2019