The Supreme Court, Manchin, and the Senate Republicans have now made it much harder for the United States to do anything substantial about domestic usage of fossil fuels. It’s hard not to get worked up about this, as the perpetrators are self-serving traitors to both our country and the rest of the world. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing to be done.
The thing we keep forgetting is that there is only one world atmosphere. There are other ways—beyond our own consumption—that we can use to affect the world’s climate. It was never the case that climate was just a matter of doing our own thing. We rich countries were always going to have to do what it takes to reduce CO2 from anywhere. We just have to step up the effort to make sure climate is a big part of everything we do.
I’m in no position to put numbers on this, but my guess is that we can achieve a sizeable chunk of what we say we’re losing. The Ukraine war has already delivered given a big boost to the demand for electric cars. We need to upgrade our electrical infrastructure to deal with the consequences—the car manufacturers are going catch up with demand. Even if we can no longer require renewable power generation, there is a lot that needs to be done with transmission and distribution regardless. Infrastructure is necessary climate work (just like EV’s themselves or even heat pumps) though it doesn’t deliver results until the power generation change is complete.
Beyond that I’d start by focusing on our military and the Ukraine war. Climate is after all a national security issue. There is a lot of money authorized for both, and we need to start climate actions—foreign and domestic—associated with it. Many people have spoken about climate backsliding from the Ukraine war, so we need to spend some of that money on compensating projects. All of our foreign aid money—especially military (since that’s largest piece)—should be reorganized around climate. That includes project financing and what we do about the third-world fallout from the Ukraine war.
We also need to be spending real research and development money on ways to reduce carbon dioxide production from industrial processes–not just here but in other countries such as India.
Biden has lost power to specifically address domestic usage, but it’s very important to recognize that we have other ways for the Executive to address climate issues. We just have to start thinking more widely now.