New legislation for the US to achieve 100% clean energy by 2050 has been announced by senior Democrats in the House of Representatives.
The Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation's Future Act (CLEAN Future Act) — unveiled by Democratic leaders of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce — requires electricity suppliers to source all their power from clean-energy resources by 2050 through increasingly stringent annual national clean-energy standards, and tradeable clean-energy credits.
In contrast to the EU’s plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, carbon pricing is not part of the proposed legislation.
“We believe we can do it without carbon pricing,” said Congressman Frank Pallone, chairman of the energy and commerce committee.
The bill — the full text of which is due to be released later this month — is set to define clean energy as generation with a carbon intensity of less than 0.82 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per MWh. However, while wind and solar power will receive full clean-energy credits for energy produced, fossil-fuel generators meeting the CO2 threshold using carbon-capture technology would only receive partial credits, making them less attractive to suppliers.
Rising annual standards will also be applied to the transport, building and industrial sectors to ensure that zero emissions are achieved by 2050.
“Record wildfires, flooding, heat waves and drought have spelled out a dire reality: the climate crisis is here, and we can no longer afford to address this crisis along the margins,” said Pallone. “For the sake of the American people, the long-term sustainability of our economy, and public health, we must act boldly, and that is exactly what we intend to do.”
Under the proposed legislation, each state would be responsible to ensure that clean-energy standards are met, with their individual strategies requiring approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Other proposals in the act include:
- The establishment of a new National Climate Bank that will use public and private investments to help states, cities, communities and businesses transition to a clean economy.
- Increased oversight of the country’s power transmission system to ensure adequate inter-regional interconnection.
- Amendments to existing legislation to ensure that energy storage becomes part of resource planning.
- Allowing power to be stored and transmitted using “non-wires solutions” such as green hydrogen and fuel cells.
- Directing the EPA to regulate methane emissions by the natural-gas sector.
- The requirement for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to consider climate when considering approval of natural-gas projects.
The CLEAN Future Act would need to be approved by the Senate and signed off by the President to become law, which would seem unlikely given the current Republican leadership of the Senate and Donald Trump's tenure in the White House. But a third of the Senate seats are up for grabs in November elections, which will take place at the same time as the presidential election.
Passage of the bill in the House would also show the public that the Democrats are the only party taking climate change seriously — a recent poll showed that 67% of American voters were unhappy with US government’s climate policy.
Environmental groups have been quick to praise the proposed legislation.
“The CLEAN Future Act is the kind of Congressional leadership we need to address the climate crisis our world is currently facing,” said James Mazzarella, senior vice president of policy and government affairs at WWF. “Our climate is clearly in crisis, and we need Congress to provide real solutions. The framework announced today is a strong step in the right direction.”