NEW YORK: Joe Biden administration launched new climate funding and job programs while world leaders convened for the Climate Ambition Summit in New York.
Notably absent from the summit was President Joe Biden, despite UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ requirement for leaders to present substantial and innovative climate action to participate. Instead, President Biden opted to send his climate envoy, John Kerry, in his place, a decision that drew attention.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made a significant announcement, allocating $4.6 billion in fresh funding for clean energy initiatives at the state, local, and tribal levels. Additionally, details emerged about the eagerly awaited American Climate Corps.
The EPA introduced two new grant competitions aimed at supporting programs and policies that reduce climate pollution, promote environmental justice, and implement clean energy solutions nationwide. One competition is earmarked for Indigenous tribes and territories, while the other is designed to assist states and local governments. However, when combined, these competitive grants total less than the $7.5 billion allocated by the Biden administration for the deployment of electric vehicle (EV) chargers.
Last year, the Supreme Court placed obstacles in the EPA’s path to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, a critical component of the Biden administration’s climate objectives. President Biden has committed to cutting US greenhouse gas emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by the end of the decade under the Paris climate accord. However, the Supreme Court’s ruling determined that the EPA, as a regulatory body, lacks the authority to dictate the sources of the United States’ electricity generation—whether clean or dirty—necessitating new legislative action.
Faced with a divided Congress and a conservative majority in the Supreme Court, the Biden administration is increasingly relying on state and local authorities to help achieve the nation’s climate goals. EPA Administrator Michael Regan emphasized the importance of collaborative efforts in addressing the global climate crisis, stating, “Tackling the global climate crisis requires partnerships and action across the country. By investing in America, we’re investing in communities so they can pave their own paths toward a cleaner energy future.”