Laurence Tubiana: “Citizens are now making the link between the damage they see and climate change”

Laurence Tubiana: “Citizens are now making the link between the damage they see and climate change”

Laurence Tubiana, October 2, 2020. Laurence Tubiana, October 2, 2020. CORENTIN FOOL / DIVERGENCE

A few months before COP27, which will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh (Egypt) from November 7th to 18th, Laurence Tubiana, Director of the European Climate Foundation and former Ambassador for the Paris Agreement negotiations, reacts to President Joe Biden’s Climate plan and the possible consequences of Sino-US tensions in the fight against global warming.

What importance can we give to the climate component of Joe Biden’s anti-inflation law?

This was essential for the movement of mutual pressure between countries to continue to be exercised at the diplomatic level. Unless a major climate bill is passed despite Joe Biden’s promise when he took office — to cut American emissions by 50% by 2030 from 2005 levels by 2030 — it’s hard to see states becoming the second-largest emitter in the world would have at that issue can remain credible – despite the diplomatic efforts of US climate envoy John Kerry. And all the more so since just a few weeks ago, immediately after the abortion right was overturned, the US Supreme Court questioned the Federal Environment Agency’s right to regulate the emission of greenhouse gases from coal-fired power plants nationwide.

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The American plan is based only on incentives, especially fiscal ones, and not on constraints: can we be sure of its effectiveness?

If we look into the recent past, with what Barack Obama was able to achieve in his second term [2013-2017], we see first that the current plan is much more ambitious. Over $360 billion [352 milliards d’euros] more than ten years, that is remarkable! However, Mr. Obama’s action was based on roughly the same philosophy: to encourage and support rather than restrict with taxes. The renewable energy tax exemption that Mr. Obama was able to push through at the time had an enormous impact: Today we see that Texas, the quintessential oil state, has become the leading exporter of renewable electricity to the United States. Even the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House has not hindered this movement. A strong acceleration in the expansion of renewables can therefore be expected, based on a proven method.

Solar panels near Huron in California's Central Valley on July 23, 2021. Solar panels near Huron in California’s Central Valley, July 23, 2021. ROBYN BECK / AFP

This is all the more important when we remember that at the end of 2021, due to the situation in the regions, Uyghurs and suspected forced labor, the United States blocked the import of Chinese solar panels and materials for their manufacture from China. Mr. Biden’s plan will rebuild a solar panel industry in the United States. This will no doubt go hand in hand with technological innovations in the important issue of rare earth recycling. [matériaux stratégiques nécessaires à la fabrication des batteries, des éoliennes, etc.].

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