February Climate Policy Roundup
By Eron Bloomgarden, Partner at Climate Finance Partners (CLIFI)
<1 Min. Read Time
Climate change is now considered a bigger threat than war for most people living in some of the world’s top economies, according to a new poll presented at the Munich Security Conference. Meanwhile, emissions continue to increase as economies recover from the coronavirus slowdown. US climate pollution increased in 2021 for the first time since 2014, with the rise outpacing GDP growth. President Biden’s Build Back Better bill hit a wall with the threat of a filibuster from Senate Republicans. However, there is hope that the climate provisions may still move forward as stand-alone climate legislation.
In the Northeastern US, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf continues his efforts to join the RGGI framework despite resistance from the Republican-controlled Senate. Earlier this month, his administration sued the Legislative Reference Bureau for refusing to publish regulations crucial to Pennsylvania's inclusion in the multistate cap-and-trade program intended to fight climate change. Meanwhile, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin wants to withdraw Virginia from RGGI, which the state joined just a little more than one year ago. Youngkin signed an Executive Order in January to start the process to end Virginia's involvement, but legal experts suggest that the state will need a new statute to withdraw completely. Total emissions within the RGGI framework rose 44% over the past year with the addition of Virginia and the resurgence in electricity demand from the manufacturing and commercial sectors.
In Europe, rising natural gas prices and tensions with Russia are forcing European leaders to grapple with questions about the pace of its energy transition. Europe depends on Russia for more than a third of its gas needs, but the current crisis with Ukraine has created fears about interruptions in gas deliveries if the conflict escalates. European leaders, confronted with a growing reliance on Russian gas imports, are moving on a set of legislative and regulatory proposals. These proposals collectively are called Fit for 55, which is the European Commission's legislative tool to make the 'European Green Deal ' a reality. It targets cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels) instead of the previous 40% target.
Lastly, after the first year of trading within China’s national carbon market, the country's environmental ministry has ordered provincial regulators to collect and publish a list of companies that failed to surrender permits in time under the 2019 and 2020 compliance cycle of the national emissions trading scheme.