Here are the top 10 energy and climate issues I'm watching this year...
1) Presidential ambitions/limitations. With a divided Congress likely, Biden is set to look across the entire government for ways to inject climate change considerations.
- He'll focus on reversing all the environmental regulatory rollbacks by President Trump, but beyond that Biden is expected to incorporate climate policies into other agencies.
2) Congressional balance. I’ll be watching to see how two dynamics interplay on Capitol Hill:
3) Moves by states and cities. In the absence of comprehensive climate policy at the federal level, states and cities have moved ahead over the past decade. I expect that to continue even with Biden in the White House.
- State and city action is likely to help Biden meet America’s goals under the Paris Agreement.
4) Corporate and grassroots positioning. Corporations’ recent rhetoric supporting action on climate change will be put to a test under the new administration, while activists will have a balancing act between pressuring and praising the incoming president.
5) Oil’s comeback (or not). Projections suggest the pandemic has permanently lowered global oil demand. If that change pans out, it will be a significant turning point for an industry that has reigned supreme for more than a century.
6) Natural gas, yea and/or nay. An important subplot is to what degree natural gas is considered a solution, however temporary, to climate change, both domestically and abroad.
7) New tech. Expect Congress and Biden’s Energy Department to pour money and attention into new technologies, including hydrogen, carbon capture, advanced nuclear power, and energy storage.
8) Diplomatic dances. The big item on 2021’s calendar for this crowd is the United Nations’ 26th annual climate change conference, to be held in November in Glasgow, Scotland (delayed a year).
9) China and India. These nations, the first and third biggest carbon-emitting countries in the world (America is second), will be central to any of Biden’s diplomatic dances.
10) Extreme weather. This is a storyline that, unfortunately, isn’t expected to change much year over year, except to become more frequent.
- This could be a central factor that forces political will to act on climate change, or at least act to better respond to the impacts of global warming that are already coming.
Go deeper: Read the full 2021 outlook, and prior years from 2018, 2019 and 2020.