Biden to pause oil and gas leases, cut subsidies in climate action

Biden takes steps to put US on 'irreversible path' to net zero economy by 2050

During a press briefing at the White House on Wednesday, Kerry, who is serving as the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, was asked what his message is to workers who are "seeing an end to their livelihoods" as a result of President Biden's plan to move away from traditional fuels and towards renewable energy.

"Just like we need a unified national response to COVID-19, we desperately need a unified national response to the climate crisis because there is a climate crisis", Biden said.

Some of the executive actions Wednesday will focus on elevating climate change to a national security priority, directing the federal government to conserve about 30 percent of all federal land and water by 2030 and suspending new leases for natural gas and oil development on federal lands and waters, two sources familiar with his plans said. Last week, the president reentered the Paris climate accord, from which the Trump administration withdrew the U.S.in 2017.

The United States will host a summit on Earth Day on 22 April where it is expected to strengthen its carbon reduction commitments under the Paris agreement, which aims to limit long term warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

China leads the world and the United States is second in such emissions, which scientists link to a warming climate.

"Together, the USA and China could basically make major progress into climate change issues and carry along the rest of the world through peer pressure", Dr. Kevin Trenberth, a Distinguished Senior Scientist in the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, told Salon by email.

The orders target federal subsidies for oil and other fossil fuels, and halt new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters.

"Pie-in-the-sky government mandates and directives that restrict our mining, oil, and gas industries adversely impact our energy security and independence", said Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state, the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Word of the measure has drawn criticism from some states that depend on drilling revenue.

Biden has set a goal of eliminating pollution from fossil fuel in the power sector by 2035 and from the USA economy overall by 2050, speeding what is already a market-driven growth of solar and wind energy and lessening the country's dependence on oil and gas.

It was not clear which subsidies could be stripped away under this order, given numerous industry's tax breaks were congressionally approved.

Another order establishes climate considerations as an essential element of US foreign policy and national security. He said his administration intends to put millions of Americans to work and invest in clean energy jobs.

"They have to realize that oil and gas are a strategic engine for the US economy", Hess told Wall Street analysts. "There's still going to be demand for oil and gas for my lifetime, anyway, and I'm just anxious about the impact it will have on the broader economy". Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday called on Biden to declare a national emergency on climate change, calling such a move "a giant step in the right direction" that would let the president tap additional resources to achieve his goals.

Kerry rebutted the stance by oil industry groups and some Republican lawmakers that greening the USA economy and shifting away from fossil fuels would harm workers.

Biden pledged to create up to a million jobs building electric cars, as well as installing solar panels, wind turbines, "capping abandoned walls, reclaiming mines, turning old brownfield sites into the new hubs of economic growth".

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