The negotiations in Washington over President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda continue to drag on without an end in sight as conservative millionaire Joe Manchin (“D”-WV) works overtime to gut everything he possibly can from the Democratic Party’s proposed $3 trillion social spending package.
While the American people will certainly mourn the needlessly punitive slashing of the paid family leave program from 12 to just 4 weeks, the most consequential cuts from the bill will likely end up being Manchin’s determination to kill a methane fee intended to deter companies from emitting the climate-changing gas from oil wells.
That's it — the last remaining policy in the BBB Act that actually restrained fossil fuels. Now the bill is exactly what Manchin wanted: a bunch of subsidies for new stuff; zero punitive policies to wind down old stuff. https://t.co/QvDXFHejrH
— David Roberts (@drvolts) October 25, 2021
Manchin has almost certainly already succeeded in gutting the Clean Energy Performance Program, which was originally designed to reward companies who make efforts to use clean energy and punish those who don’t. Now there is nothing left in the bill to actually restrain the emission of fossil fuels, which spells disaster for the world’s ecology and human civilization as we know it.
On the heels of this news comes another U.N. report warning that major nations like the United States are “utterly failing” to reach their emission reduction goals and that the world is on track for a cataclysmic 2.7-degree increase in global climate rise this century, just days ahead of a major international climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland. Once again, the United States is failing to show any leadership or initiative on the issue; the report said that “the U.S. is one of several Group of 20 economies that hasn’t put policies in place to achieve the emissions targets of its previous plan submitted under the Paris accord, let alone its updated plan submitted from this year.”
United Nations Environment Program director Inger Andersen did not mince his words when outlining just how dire the situation is. “The world has to wake up to the imminent peril we face as a species. To stand a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, we have eight years to almost halve greenhouse gas emissions: eight years to make the plans, put in place the policies, implement them and ultimately deliver the cuts. The clock is ticking loudly.”
“Despite these alarm bells ringing at fever pitch, we see new evidence today in the (UNEP) Emissions Gap Report that governments’ actions so far simply do not add up to what is so desperately needed,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
It appears that once again, those alarm bells will be ignored in the United States by selfish, elderly politicians who will be long dead before they have to face any of the consequences of climate change. The Democratic Party is in the absurd position of watching just one member of their own party not only cripple their President’s own vision of reshaping America but also obstruct efforts to address an existential crisis that threatens the entire human race — and at this point, it’s hard to see how any kind of substantial action to combat climate change will ever be passed in the United States before its far too late.
All we have to look forward to is the disgusting racism and heartless cruelty the people of this nation will undoubtedly exhibit once climate refugees come seeking shelter from the rising seas and barren lands that our insatiable greed and political dysfunction created.
Editor’s note: This story has been re-categorized from News to News Analysis.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.