by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Joe Biden would need to implement a massive tax on emissions and conduct a near elimination of natural gas to meet his climate goals, according to left-leaning environmental experts.
Biden will join world leaders at the United Nations’ climate change conference in November to discuss his administration’s pledge to reduce U.S. carbon emissions by 50 to 52 percent by 2030. While a White House fact sheet claims the goal will “cut … energy costs for families,” environmental experts contend Biden must enact policies that would raise taxes on everyday Americans to reach his emissions milestone.
According to Resources for the Future fellow Marc Hafstead, for example, Biden will fall short of his climate objective if he does not implement a tax hike on carbon emissions. The left-leaning World Resources Institute agrees—mitigation efforts without an emissions tax “carry significant uncertainties and fall short” of Biden’s goal, its top experts wrote in September. The University of Maryland’s Leon Clarke argues Biden would need a “near-complete phase-out” of natural gas-fired utilities and appliances.
The radical steps necessary to achieve his emissions goals—nearly half of U.S. homes use natural gas for heating—reflect the daunting political road ahead for Biden. The Democrat centered his campaign around fighting climate change but often ditched specifics for political platitudes on the campaign trail. Some environmental activists are already dismayed with Biden over what they see as an emphasis on “talking points” rather than tangible action. Should Biden lean into the “whole-of-government approach to the climate crisis” that he has promised, however, the subsequent policies could be “politically infeasible,” according to Hafstead. …
… Democrats have already included some of the experts’ policy proposals in Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending plan. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) in August touted the bill’s Clean Electricity Payment Program, which aims to ensure that 80 percent of U.S. electricity comes from zero-carbon sources by 2030.