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President Joe Biden is preparing a series of new executive orders to address climate change, according to recent comments by his special envoy on climate-related issues, John Kerry.
Kerry discussed the Biden administration’s plans for reducing U.S. emissions during an interview with Yahoo News Senior Climate Editor Ben Adler on Friday.
Adler noted that the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) championed by the Biden administration is projected to bring down U.S. emissions by about 40 percent, despite a goal set by the administration to bring about a 50 percent reduction in U.S. emissions by the end of the decade.
“We’re doing a lot more than just the IRA,” Kerry responded. “The IRA is a package that in and of itself can get the 40 percent. But in addition to that, the president is issuing executive orders. There’ll be changes on automobile, on light truck, heavy truck, heavy duty—a number of initiatives that are being taken by states, subnational, cities. They really kept us in the game, frankly, during the Trump administration when he pulled out of the [Paris Climate Agreement].”
Kerry didn’t provide many details on what new executive orders could be coming or how they might specifically impact businesses and industries.
“We have a lot of other options, tools, if you will, in the toolkit besides the IRA,” Kerry said. “The IRA is a huge leap forward, and it’s already having a major impact.”
What Happens If Republicans Win in 2024
Adler asked Kerry how the Biden administration’s goals on emission reductions might be impacted if Donald Trump or another Republican candidate wins control of the White House in 2024 and repeals certain emission reduction mandates and initiatives.
“Well, I think what’s important for everybody to note is that achieving our goal is not exclusively dependent on what the federal government says or does,” Kerry said. “It’s critical, but not wholly dependent.”
Republicans and conservatives have broadly defended fossil fuels as a key component of the current U.S. economy, while arguing that the transition to renewable energies would be less affordable or reliable. During his presidency, Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement, calling the international emissions reduction framework “a total disaster” for the U.S. economy.
Kerry then said that 75 percent of the new electrical output that came about in the United States during President Donald Trump’s term came from one renewable energy resource or another. He noted other business entities have been independently pursuing their own emission reduction goals.
Kerry Defends Biden Permitting New Oil Drilling
While Kerry alluded to a new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report and stressed that the United States should do more to counteract climate change, he also defended a recent decision by Biden to approve a new oil drilling project in Alaska.
“You mentioned President Biden’s record, including land use management. But he’s also done some things that have increased fossil fuel production, the recent approval of the Willow project in Alaska,” Adler said.
“For the moment,” Kerry responded. “Remember, we have seven years before the 2030 target. And the president is determined that we will stay on that target. But in the immediate moment, while we transition, you don’t want to crash your whole economy.”
Kerry also defended the U.S. export of liquified natural gas to Europe, saying the move is “critical to the economy of Europe” while the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies support Ukraine in its war with Russia.
Kerry also dismissed claims that he has flown in private jets, which can produce tons of carbon emissions every flight. Kerry said he hasn’t traveled on private jets over the course of his job as the presidential climate envoy, and wealthy individuals who do fly private jets while traveling to promote policies reducing global emissions can afford to offset their personal emissions “and they are working harder than most people I know to be able to try to effect this transition.”
Kerry Touts China’s Renewable Energy Projects, Says Coal Still a Problem
Kerry credited China with becoming the “largest deployer of solar panels.”
“In China, they have deployed far more renewable energy than we have or than Europe has,” Kerry said.
Republican lawmakers recently criticized U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm for saying “we can all learn from what China is doing” to lessen its carbon footprint and describing China’s clean energy initiatives as “encouraging.”
The lawmakers said China continues “to be one of the world’s worst polluters” and that Granholm’s comments “raise serious questions” about her judgment.
Kerry did express some concerns about China’s continued heavy reliance on coal. China is the leading coal-producing country and, as EcoWatch reported, the country produced a record 4.496 billion metric tons of coal in 2022.
NTD has reached out to Kerry’s office for comment.
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