President Biden’s Earth Day Climate Summit sought to reclaim U.S. global leadership on climate change. At the Summit, Biden pledged that the U.S. would cut carbon emissions by 50-52% by 2030, with 2005 as the baseline (for reference, in 2015, President Obama had pledged a 25 to 28% reduction by 2025). Biden’s credibility with the international audience depends on whether he can show a domestic policy pathway to the promised 50% reduction. Moreover, he needs to make sure that the climate targets do not get tied to other issues that might invite strong domestic opposition.
The Manchin Factor: The Road to Climate Progress runs through West Virginia
The 50% emission reduction target will be achieved by a mix of regulation and federal spending. Biden’s ambitious $2 trillion infrastructure plan generously funds climate projects. But domestic spending programs require Congressional approval. This is where Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) comes in. He chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. But more importantly, given the 50-50 split in the U.S. Senate, Manchin is the crucial swing vote.