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JOSH EXCLUSIVELY REPORTS DETAILS ON GOP CLIMATE TRIP: House Republicans are planning their own trip without Democrats to the upcoming U.N. climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, as the GOP looks to send a message to the world that there is bipartisan interest in the United States for addressing global warming.
While Republicans from both chambers have attended previous U.N. climate conferences, this is the first time GOP lawmakers are organizing a delegation among themselves in order to have flexibility in promoting their own agenda.
Two outside conservative groups, Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions and ClearPath, have created a 501c3, called the Conservative Climate Foundation, to fund the trip and help organize the itinerary — an arrangement necessitated by House rules.
Members attending the trip and the groups supporting them claim their intent is to be constructive and not to derail the U.S. and other countries’ efforts to strengthen Paris Agreement emissions targets at the conference.
“We want to show the world Republicans and conservatives do care and we care deeply [about climate change],” said Rep. John Curtis of Utah, who is planning to attend the trip with Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana. “We also want to show we have good ideas. We want a seat at that climate table. That’s been the mistake with Republicans not talking about this... our ideas are not being considered.”
Curtis was speaking to Josh and co-host Neil Chatterjee for a new episode of our Plugged In podcast out next Tuesday (so stay tuned for more from him).
Curtis and Graves have been at the forefront of the GOP attempt to shift its positioning on climate change to support clean energy technology innovation. Curtis is the chairman of the Conservative Climate Caucus, launched this year, while Graves is the top Republican on the Select Climate Committee created by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Reps. David McKinley of West Virginia and Dan Crenshaw of Texas will also be joining the House GOP delegation, their offices confirmed to Josh. ClearPath and CRES said they hope at least a dozen members join in total.
What’s on the itinerary: Heather Reams, president of CRES, and Rich Powell, executive director of ClearPath, say the foundation they created, funded by their groups, planned the trip to COP26 as an “educational” opportunity to get Republicans better acquainted with the U.N. climate negotiations process.
Republican lawmakers plan to engage with delegations from other countries and meet with clean energy business leaders on the sidelines of the conference and visit renewable projects like offshore wind farms.
“I can see foreign actors interested to see Republicans are coming over to be constructive and to learn,” Reams told Josh. “That would send a tremendous signal on the changing political dynamic on dealing with climate change.”
Different approaches: Republicans, though, won’t exactly be presenting themselves as united with the Biden administration, European countries, and others who say COP26 is the last best chance for countries to keep alive the goals of the Paris Agreement to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius or below 2 degrees.
Graves introduced legislation this year with other GOP leaders that would force the Biden administration to report to Congress before it submitted its emissions pledge to the U.N. The Republican agenda does not include a specific target to cut emissions, as they argue the U.S. should extract a stronger commitment from China, the world’s largest emitter, before making its own pledge.
“We are not there to bash the administration,” Graves told Josh. “I have repeatedly said I commend [climate envoy] John Kerry for engaging globally. But Biden’s end zone needs to be singularly focused on China and getting them to make real commitments that are accountable and enforceable.”
Graves raised the specter of the global energy crunch as a reason the U.S. and other countries should not impose mandates, regulations, and other policies to move quickly off oil and gas.
Rep. Jared Huffman, a California Democrat on the Select Climate Committee who will be attending COP26, said he appreciates the presence of Republicans such as Graves and Curtis, who he called “smart and knowledgeable.”
“But if you are really listening to science and trying to meet the imperative of emissions reduction with urgency and transitioning away from fossil fuels, I am not sure they are going to be singing from the same hymnal as the rest of the world in Glasgow,” Huffman told Josh.
Powell of ClearPath acknowledged differences in the approach of Democrats and Republicans but said he expects alignment at COP26 on issues like promoting research and development of clean energy technologies, climate resiliency measures, and phasing out the use of potent greenhouse gas coolants known as hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs.
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CLIMATE AGREEMENT ELUSIVE FOR DEMOCRATS: An agreement on climate change provisions remains elusive for Democrats as lawmakers and President Joe Biden look to strike a framework agreement for their reconciliation package by the end of this week.
Biden, who met with centrist and liberal Democrats yesterday and plans more meetings this week in a race to finish the deal, told the lawmakers to accept a spending range of $1.75 trillion to $1.9 trillion. That’s lower than the recent $2 trillion limit the president imposed on Democrats as they struggle to reach a deal on the legislation ahead of an Oct. 31 deadline.
Huffman, who was among progressives meeting with Biden yesterday, told Josh afterwards that the discussions on climate change were "pretty high level."
But there's agreement that a package of clean energy tax credits, the core piece certain to remain in the bill, aren't enough.
“You've got to have emissions reductions. You've got to have real commitments,” Huffman said.
Democrats are still scrambling for what gets them there.
Democrats and the White House are prepared to leave out their clean electricity performance program due to opposition from key centrist Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. The idea of including a carbon tax also seems remote, after Manchin and other Democrats in the House and Senate have dismissed the policy.
"The question is how you achieve your 2030 goal of reducing emissions by 50% in a way that can work for Manchin? I don't think that's been figured out yet," Huffman said.
House progressives are convening a call with Sen. Tina Smith of Minnesota, the main architect of the CEPP program, to discuss alternatives, which could include providing block grants to states that increase clean electricity, Politico reported this afternoon.
BIDEN MOVES AGAINST MINNESOTA MINE: The Biden administration this morning announced an environmental review for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, pausing all new mineral leases, as Josh first reported.
The move could stymie the Twins Metals mining project long targeted by environmentalists.
The Interior and Agriculture departments will consider a 20-year mineral leasing withdrawal of key portions of national forest lands, prohibiting the issuance of prospective permits and leases in the meantime.
There are two leases within the proposed withdrawal area associated with the Twin Metals project, which would mine copper, nickel, and platinum group metals.
What it means politically: Biden is siding with environmentalists in a conflict that has roiled Democrats, who have historically opposed domestic mining projects but also want to boost production of critical minerals that are in high demand as inputs in clean energy technologies, such as electric vehicle batteries and solar panels.
Huffman, who sits on the House Natural Resources Committee, told Josh that Biden can still achieve that balance.
“Democrats and Republicans do absolutely want to develop critical minerals so we can domestically source our batteries and other clean energy components. That doesn’t mean you do it in the most sensitive areas on earth,” said Huffman, who supports Congress imposing a permanent withdrawal of mineral leasing from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Republicans accused Biden of interfering with the Twin Metals project before it completes the permitting process and said stopping the mine and others like it would risk ceding the critical minerals supply chain to China.
“With the stroke of a pen, the Biden administration threatens years of hard work and hundreds of jobs in a desperate attempt to kowtow to radical environmental interests instead of allowing a fair review of the proposed project,” said Rep. Bruce Westerman of Arkansas, the top Republican on the Natural Resources Committee. “The Chinese Communist Party is all too happy to keep us dependent on the mines they own globally and man with child and slave labor.”
CHINA AND INDIA TO FUEL MORE DEMAND FOR NATURAL GAS: Developing countries in Asia will collectively become the largest importers of natural gas by 2050, surpassing Europe, the Energy Information Administration said in a note this morning.
Asian countries are expected to see their economies continue to grow over the next decades, fueling more demand for energy.
That means non-OECD countries in Asia, led primarily by China and India, will more than double net imports of natural gas by 2050.
POTENTIAL GAS COMMITTEE REPORT ON NATURAL GAS SUPPLY: A new assessment estimates that an abundance of the United States’s natural gas supply — trillions of cubic feet — remains untapped.
The Potential Gas Committee’s year-end 2020 report finds the country has a total of 3,368 trillion cubic feet worth of technically recoverable resources, or those in the ground that have not yet been recovered.
Of the nation’s seven regions, the Atlantic region contains the largest share of total gas resources (39%). The Mid-Continent region, which includes the Permian Basin, maintains another 18%, and the Rocky Mountains some 17% of the potential future supply.
FOSSIL PRODUCTION INCONSISTENT WITH PARIS GOALS...REPORT: Current and projected future global fossil fuel production is inconsistent with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to a report co-written by the UN Environment Programme and multiple other European research institutes.
The 2021 Production Gap Report estimates that governments of the world’s leading economies have plans to produce around 110% more fossil fuels in 2030, including about 240% more coal, 57% more oil, and 71% more gas.
The projected increase to 110% is also 45% above the levels of fossil production that would be consistent with limiting warming to 2 degrees, the report found.
The report summary notes that these governments, including those of Australia, China, the US, and the UK, have made commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions but says “few have assessed, at least publicly, whether their projected fossil fuel production is consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.”
EUROPEAN OIL BIGS BACK RECONCILIATION CLIMATE PIECE: Oil giants BP and Shell are among a group of 17 corporations backing the climate piece of Democrats' Build Back Better agenda.
The companies boasted their clean energy bona fides and "climate-forward business strategies" in a letter to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi and told the Democratic leaders that "both private-sector and government action are necessary" to reach the net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.
"We support the robust climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act and request their inclusion in the final legislation," the companies wrote.
The endorsement puts BP America and Shell at odds with its major competitors and fellow American Petroleum Institute members Chevron and ExxonMobil — as well as with API itself — which have been lobbying against the Democrats’ agenda with Facebook ad buys and public advocacy in recent months.
SEVILLE TO NAME HEAT WAVES: The southern Spanish city will launch a new initiative next year to give names and ranks to heat waves.
The idea is that treating intense heat like catastrophic hurricanes will put residents on notice of its lethality and save lives.
“By categorizing heat waves based on their projected health impact, [Seville Mayor Juan] Espadas is arming residents with the power of lifesaving information and actions to prevent harm,” said Kathy Baughman-McLeod, director of the Arsht-Rockefeller Center, which is partnering with the city on the initiative.
Reuters China signs huge LNG deals with US supplier Venture Global
Bloomberg Putin won’t go to Glasgow for COP26 climate summit, Kremlin says
New York Times Britain outlines energy plans amid dimming prospects for climate summit
Reuters Global oil refiners crank up output as margins recover to pre-COVID levels
New York Times On a Pacific island, Russia tests its battle plan for climate change
WEDNESDAY | OCT. 20
1:30 p.m. 210 Cannon. The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis will hold a hybrid hearing titled, “Good For Business: Private Sector Perspectives on Climate Action.”
THURSDAY | OCT. 21
10 a.m. A subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a remote hearing titled, “Preparing for COP26: United States Strategy to Combat Climate Change through International Development.”
10:30 a.m. 2123 Rayburn. The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy Subcommittee will hold a hearing on offshore wind.
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Original Author: Josh Siegel