Axios Pro: Energy Policy

November 21, 2023

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👋 Happy almost Turkey Day! Wishing you good luck with any travel plans.

  • We're giving you a special COP28 preview going into your holiday weekend. We'll be back to our regular schedule next week when Congress returns.

ğŸŽ¼ Today's last tune is a Thanksgiving treat from Axios editor Javier David. He recommends "[Do the] Mashed Potatoes" by James Brown. Yum!

1 big thing: Hill's mixed COP28 messages

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

The bipartisan group of lawmakers headed to COP28 in Dubai is set to send the world mixed messages about how the U.S. sees fossil fuels, Nick writes.

Why it matters: This year's conference, held in a petrostate and run by the head of an oil company, is giving the industry an unusual spotlight.

  • Democrats will continue their international IRA sales campaign, while Republicans — who want to repeal or neuter the landmark law — will likely seek to bolster the role of oil and gas in the energy transition.

Driving the news: House Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers is leading an official bipartisan delegation with ranking member Frank Pallone.

  • That's a significant departure from recent years, when House Republicans have traveled to COP separately or in bipartisan groups on privately sponsored trips.
  • Senate Foreign Relations Chair Ben Cardin is also leading a bipartisan delegation that includes climate hawks like Ed Markey and moderates like Chris Coons and Lisa Murkowski.
  • Lawmakers will get limited time on the ground toward the end of the conference, but Dec. 10 will be a big day for them, per the State Department's schedule of events.
  • That morning, senators will discuss "congressional support for climate action." In the evening, members of the House delegation will join an event with the Conservative Climate Foundation, according to E&C spokesperson Sean Kelly.

Nick spoke to some of the lawmakers going to Dubai …

Rep. Jeff Duncan: "I've never been, so the first thing is education — seeing kind of how the other side approaches climate.

  • "I hope we take a Republican message that we like renewables, we're all the above. We also understand you need dispatchable energy to make it all work and also push natural gas.
  • "We've lowered our carbon emissions. It's 40% cleaner, U.S. natural gas."

Rep. John Curtis: "The message I'd like to bring is that Republicans care, that we have good ideas, and we want to be at the table.

  • "The Conservative Climate Foundation was planning on taking us, but we felt like we wanted to support the [bipartisan] trip."

Sen. Tom Carper: "It's important for folks around the world to know we're not just talking a good game about climate change and reducing emissions. We're doing stuff.… I'm a big believer in leadership by example.

  • "There's a fair amount of participation from the private sector at COP, so they've got to be a big part of the solution as well."

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse: "I'm going to go there and talk about how valuable the EU, and now possibly U.K., CBAM is and how our country needs to step up.

Of note: Cardin has put a focus on human rights since taking over the Foreign Relations Committee, so we expect him to highlight the issue at COP.

Our thought bubble: Despite the partisan divides over climate, don't underestimate the significance of a bipartisan House delegation.

  • "A bipartisan CODEL is an opportunity for members to share learning experiences and build the relationships and personal trust that enable policymaking," said Alex Flint, who leads the pro-carbon tax group Alliance for Market Solutions.
  • Plus, we could see some bipartisan discussion of fusion, which the Biden administration plans to spotlight this year.

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