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What a climate emergency means for investment

Photo illustration of Joe Biden surrounded by three blinking sirens.

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

If President Biden declares a climate emergency, the move would, in theory, enable the administration to put more money toward renewables deployment.

Why it matters: The declaration would give at least a small boost to clean energy and climate tech sectors being hit by a funding pullback.

What now: The expectation for what actually comes from the White House in terms of substance isn't high — but at least it'd be something, founders and funders tell Axios.

  • "It would send a signal to companies in heavy industry that they need to double down on green hydrogen and other low-carbon strategies or get left in the dust as their competitors ramp up their efforts to reach net zero," Jacob Susman, a climate tech investor and CEO of Ambient Fuels, says.
  • Steve Westly, founder and managing partner of the Westly Group, a California-based VC, adds, "To get the support from the POTUS to say that there’s additional monies coming — it speaks loudly not only to entrepreneurs, but to corporations to continue to make a commitment to ESG goals."

Yes, but: In the face of a global energy crisis and $5/gallon gasoline, hamstringing oil and gas development may not be the most politically popular — or even palatable — move.

  • Then again: Biden could split the baby by putting more funds toward clean energy and climate tech while doing little to curtail oil and gas.

Of note: The Biden administration, through the Energy Department, is putting $56 billion toward the struggling solar energy sector.

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