Climate Summit Forecasts Change

President Biden made a lot of NGOs, businesses and localities happy last week when he announced reductions in U.S. emissions during his first major heads of state convening at the Leaders Summit on Climate. But as often is the case, the devil lies ahead in the details. 

Our takeaways from the summit:

  • Biden’s promise to cut U.S. emissions in half by 2030 will shape federal action, with or without Congress, for the next four years at least. 
  • Transportation, heavy industry, agriculture and buildings are all thornier, harder to decarbonize segments of the economy that are going to need deeper attention. Ground zero for achieving U.S. commitments is the electric grid. A wide array of organizations are calling for a 100% clean electricity pledge by 2035. But the grid is also the easiest place to start. According to Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, we’re halfway to zero already. 
  • One flashpoint to watch will be between the administration’s push for union jobs and “Made in America” pledge with the growing clean energy industry and federal procurement of cleantech. Right now, the renewables industry has half the unionized workforce of fossil fuels and many critical components of a clean energy world – like solar panels, batteries and semiconductors – are mostly manufactured overseas.