US President Joe Biden in his 2023 federal budget has outlined significant funding increases for climate action initiatives led by the departments of energy (DoE) and interior (DoI), which are central to enabling the country to achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century, according to the White House.

Overall, the administration is proposing to spend $44.9bn across the federal government to tackle climate change next year, an increase of $16.7bn on 2021. The federal fiscal year runs 1 October through 30 September.

“We are tackling the climate crisis with urgency,” he said in his budget message to Congress where the $5.8trn measure will undergo revisions amid partisan wrangling over spending levels and preferences with moderate Democrats and Republicans likely to oppose some climate-related provisions.

The annual budget reflects a president’s policy priorities and is accompanied with an analysis and justification of requested levels of spending for programmes, projects, and activities.

To help reach net-zero in 2050, Biden has set four core climate targets. Those for 2030 are a 50-52% reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide greenhouse gas pollution, 30GW offshore wind capacity in commercial operation, and 50% of new vehicle sales will be zero-emissions. He also targets 2035 to eliminate carbon from the electric grid.

“We are pleased that the Biden administration’s proposed budget invests in America’s domestic energy security while – at the same time – focusing on reaching our country’s emissions goals," said Heather Zichal, CEO of American Clean Power Association, a national trade group based in Washington, DC.

"Increased investment in clean energy, as indicated in the proposed budget, will create hundreds of thousands of American jobs over the next decade and will bring more reliable and resilient clean energy to millions of Americans," she added.

At DoE, Biden is requesting $48.2bn in discretionary spending, a 15.1% increase from a year earlier.

Funding includes $9.2bn to support US leadership in developing innovative technologies that accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy, up 33% year-on-year. This would encompass clean energy research, development, and demonstration, and strengthen clean energy-enabling transmission and distribution systems.

A priority is funding support for a “dramatic scale-up” in domestic manufacturing of key climate and clean energy equipment, easing dependence on foreign supply sources and providing opportunities for US workers.

Solar is a prime focus as the US relies on Chinese manufacturers for the great majority of modules and many of the key components in solar panels, including polysilicon.

The budget includes $200m for a new initiative – Solar Manufacturing Accelerator – that would help create a robust manufacturing sector “capable of meeting the administration’s solar deployment goals without relying on imported goods manufactured using unacceptable labour practices”.

This is reference to US allegations that Hoshine Silicon Industry and its subsidiaries are using forced labour against Muslim minority groups in China’s Xinjing Uyghur autonomous region. US Customs and Border Protection is detaining modules suspected of having polysilicon processed from metallurgical silicon made by the Hoshine group.

Last September, DoE issued a study that forecast PV could provide 37-42% of national electricity demand by 2035 versus 3% in 2020. US electric power consumption was 3,800TWh in 2020, according to the latest calendar year data.

The budget also provides record $7.8bn investment for the Office of Science to support cutting-edge research as the national laboratories and private/state universities. Part of this funding would advance the nation’s understanding of climate change and identify and accelerate novel technologies for clean energy solutions.

DoE’s high-profile Advanced Research and Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) would receive $700m to invest in high-potential, high-impact research, and development to help remove the technological barriers to advance energy and environmental missions.

The budget also proposes expanded authority for ARPA-E to better address “innovation gaps” around adaptation, mitigation, and resilience to the impacts of climate change.

For DoI, Biden is requesting $17.5bn, a 19.3% year-on-year increase. More than $250m in proposed funding, a record, would support federal reviews and permitting of clean and renewable energy capacity on US public lands.

The 2023 budget includes $51.7m for Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) renewable energy programmes and $7.7m to create an offshore renewables inspection and regulation regime at sister agency Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

BOEM, a DoI agency, oversees offshore wind development on the outer continental shelf beyond state territorial limits

Onshore, the administration is moving to permit 25GW of renewable energy capacity by 2025 as required by the Energy Act of 2020.

The budget provides $152.8m to support reviews and permitting of clean energy and other infrastructure and development projects at the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and $60.7m for the same purpose at the Bureau of Land Management. The US Geological Survey would get $3.6m to characterise and assess domestic geothermal energy resources.

The federal government owns about 640 million acres (2.6 million km2), or 28% of US land, with most west of the Mississippi River where the best renewable energy resource is located, and in Alaska. BLM controls 244 million acres, FWS 89 million and the Department of Agricultures Forest Service 193 million with the balance mainly national parks and held by the Department of Defence.