While Joe Biden has won the requisite electoral (and popular) votes to be inaugurated as the next President of the USA in January, the blue wave that would have decisively delivered a Democrat Senate never broke.
This has elicited questions about the scale of climate ambition that can be realised over forthcoming years, with concerns that congressional gridlock will remain the prevailing state of affairs.
Without this Congressional support, it appears unlikely that the foundations of Biden’s climate plans, that would have catalysed deep decarbonisation pathways via a $2 trillion spending plan, will be delivered via Federal policy. However, bipartisan support for some vectors of clean energy spending could yet develop, while Democratic Senate control still remains a possibility.
Further, the Biden Administration also retains a number of other paths to enact substantive climate reform.
- Firstly, while the re-joining of the Paris Climate Accord will be largely symbolic, it will demonstrate geopolitical engagement and stimulate broader action.
- Secondly, the opening of a White House “Climate Office” could coordinate executive orders and regulatory actions, which will be critical to catalysing emissions trajectory changes, should the Congress not be willing.
- Thirdly, vectors such as a reinvigorated Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and a repurposed SEC and CFTC that seek to integrate climate risks could all play powerful roles in a transition towards Paris alignment.
Finally, while US policy frameworks clearly need reorientation if we are to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, we should also remember that the economics of decarbonisation are ever more evident.
This should ease the path of the transition, regardless of political discord.