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Nuclear, carbon capture, technology jobs: Biden hits on climate-change words Republicans like to hear

The spending numbers behind climate-change policy — largely packaged in the White House’s infrastructure plan — divides the Biden administration and congressional Republicans, but the president included some of the favored language of his opposition in remarks Friday.

Read: Biden holds fresh round of bipartisan infrastructure talks as Republicans eye smaller package

Addressing the final day of the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate, Biden’s punch list of what he believes are economic benefits in shifting from fossil fuels

to renewables and embracing technology to curb emissions included GOP-favored initiatives like modernizing nuclear energy and scaling up carbon capture. And the president again linked climate change to jobs, stressing hiring electricians, construction crews and traditional energy-sector workers to retrofit buildings and build out the nation’s solar, wind, battery storage and electric-vehicle industries.

Read: Miners’ union and Sen. Manchin back shift from coal in exchange for renewable energy and tech jobs

The White House said Friday it wants to spend $75 million to support customized engineering designs for carbon capture and storage technology for power and industrial plants. “Retrofitting with carbon capture technology could employ a similar workforce that exists today in energy communities and position American industry to compete in a global economy that is rapidly turning toward decarbonization,” the White House said.

Republicans and some Democrats backing a diverse energy portfolio in the march toward hitting the Paris climate pact goals generally lead off their policy pitches with carbon capture.

It involves grabbing excess CO₂, sometimes directly from the power plant or other emitting source, ostensibly creating greener energy. Other capture and sequestration technology uses the oceans for storage. Critics charge that this process too often takes the place of efforts to cut emitting altogether.

Private-sector investment in carbon capture is also on the rise, including from the fossil-fuel industry.

A diverse “clean” energy portfolio typically includes spending to modernize nuclear energy, and Biden included nuclear in a brief mention Friday. Republican plans have included measures seeking to establish a uranium reserve and speeding up nuclear power plant permits and reactor environmental reviews. 

“We all want to reduce emissions, but we need to be smart about it. We should cut energy prices, not energy choices, reduce our emissions not our economy, and export American innovation, not American jobs,” said Heather Reams, executive director of the right-leaning Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions.

Related: Nuclear and carbon capture may form bipartisan (re)starting point on climate change

Opinion: Hydrogen is the one clean energy source everyone seems to like, so why aren’t we using it more to fight climate change?

Biden in remarks Friday also welcomed pledges from Brazil, Canada and Japan, who made commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions and other steps.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro vowed to end illegal deforestation in the country by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Environmental policy experts were quick to stress that Bolsonaro has previously criticized protections of the country’s forests and threatened to withdraw from the Paris accord. Brazil has asked the Biden administration to provide $1 billion to pay for conservation efforts in the Amazon rainforest.

The pledges came shortly after Biden vowed to reduce U.S. emissions by at least 50% by 2030, more than doubling the country’s prior commitment.

“Half of the world’s economy is now committed,” Biden said.

Biden called the pledges a “start” that is awaiting real commitment at the formal U.N. COP-26 meeting in Glasgow in November.

India, the world’s No. 3 polluter, has yet to make a firm emissions pledge, though the U.S. has vowed a clean-energy and climate partnership after U.S. climate envoy traveled there this month.

Read:John Kerry: Glasgow climate meeting is ‘last, best hope’ for big nations to make a difference

Biden said he was “heartened” by remarks from Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who said that Russia may propose preferential terms and conditions for foreign investment in clean energy projects.

The natural gasNG00 giant’s relationship with the U.S. over spying, election meddling and treatment of Putin’s political opposition could complicate cooperation on a global issue such as climate change. Republicans have been wary of potential relaxed security concerns around Russia, China and the Middle East when it comes to coordinating on climate change.

Read: China, India Complicate Biden’s Climate Ambitions

Read More: Nuclear, carbon capture, technology jobs: Biden hits on climate-change words Republicans like to hear

2021-04-23 10:45:00

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