Democrats in Congress are already marshalling their newfound power to push for increased climate change measures. In particular, they’re calling for the incoming Biden administration to “increase the social cost of carbon, eliminate support for fossil fuels and create new tax benefits for clean energy companies.”
According to Politico, the recommendations include the development of an “aggressive, science-based” social cost of carbon that would increase over time while also reducing and eliminating fossil fuels subsidies. The article continues:
It also calls for rejoining the World Health Organization; ensuring that every agency addresses global warming in strategic planning; and increasing research, development, and deployment investment aimed at economy-wide CO2 emissions reductions. Democrats also urged the committee to continue investigating “the extent to which industry has influenced the Trump Administration’s actions — including anti-climate decisions and regulatory actions.”
This should come as no surprise. Democrats have called time and again for drastic policy measures to address climate change. But however much the United States may decrease its own emissions, it will have negligible impact upon global warming as a whole without real change (and not just empty promises for the future) by countries such as China.
In the meantime, the domestic policies aimed at curbing carbon emissions will affect Americans who continue to struggle to make ends meet due to the economic lockdowns associated with the pandemic. Policies targeting fossil-based energy will have the direct effect of substantially raising energy prices.
While many Americans could not afford large increases in their energy costs, low-income households will be hurt the most. One survey of low-income households by the National Energy Assistance Directors Association found that, partly due to high energy costs, low-income individuals will forgo food, medical or dental care or will keep their households at unsafe temperatures, causing sickness.
Lawmakers should carefully consider the direct impacts of their policies upon Americans instead of chasing after an abstract ideal which is not feasible at the moment. Instead of punishing reliable and affordable sources of energy for the American people, lawmakers should focus on encouraging innovation to make renewable energy a feasible alternative as well as continuing to clean up traditional sources with technology such as carbon capture and storage.