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Big climate change policy unlikely no matter who wins the White House

Big climate change policy unlikely no matter who wins the White House

Amy Harder Don’t hold your breath for big climate policy changes — even if a Democrat wins the White House.

Why it matters: Congress is likely to remain gridlocked on the matter, leading to either more of the same with President Trump’s re-election or a regulatory swing back to the left no matter which Democrat wins — but far short of a legislative overhaul.

The big picture: Climate change is reaching a new high-water mark as a political concern for American voters, and Democratic presidential nominees are promising aggressive policies.

  • That in and of itself is a sea change from prior elections. Even still, these worries and pledges are unlikely to translate into any major new laws in the next few years (at least).

Here’s why, with potential scenarios mapped out.

Trump wins re-election

While Trump is uniquely unpredictable in presidential history, he’s made it clear since moving into the White House that he’s not interested in pursuing any sort of actual climate legislation on Capitol Hill.

More of the same is most likely, in two important ways:

  1. More curtailing of environmental regulations — and defending them in court.
  2. More pressure on other actors — like companies, states and other countries — to take bigger action on their own as the void of U.S. presidential leadership grows.

Any Democrat wins

All Democrats have aggressive climate plans, but it’s an open question whether any would first push climate legislation over other priorities — especially health care………

Regardless of congressional priority, any Democratic president would swing Washington’s executive-action pendulum far back in the other direction. …..

A progressive Democrat wins

… like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. ……This type of all-encompassing and hyper-aggressive legislation is unlikely to get universal support among Democrats (to say nothing of universal Republican opposition) — which makes them extremely unlikely to get through the Senate.

  • This is because Democrats with more moderate ideologies or those representing energy-intensive states are unlikely to support the broader socioeconomic measures and such aggressive moves away from fossil fuels, partly because many of those jobs are represented by unions……..

A more moderate Democrat wins

… like Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar or Michael Bloomberg.

I anticipate these politicians would be (relatively) more open to trying to work with Republicans on climate change than their progressive counterparts……

As Congress talks climate policy, carbon price gets no love

New lobbying urging Congress to support a price on carbon emissions is not convincing lawmakers to warm up to the policy.

Why it matters: A carbon price is widely considered one of the most economically efficient ways to tackle climate change. But, economics be damned, its politics remain deeply unpopular.


March 3, 2020 - Posted by | climate change, election USA 2020, politics

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