US court brakes in the field of climate protection – economy

Joe Biden’s climate protection plans are in serious danger – and with them the Paris Agreement plans. A conservative majority in the US Supreme Court on Thursday cut the powers of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency. They wanted to impose stricter regulations on power plants as part of the Clean Air Plan. This would lead to the closure of coal-fired power plants and their replacement by low-carbon energy sources such as wind, solar and nuclear fuel. The coal industry fiercely opposed the regulation, especially in West Virginia, which led to the case being settled in court.

Currently, six of the nine Supreme Court judges have ruled that the environmental authority has exceeded its powers. Regulations can only be imposed on individual plants. However, in the current environmental law, there are no grounds for sector-wide reduction plans and regulations.

According to the judgment of the conservative judge John Roberts, a reasonable solution would be to tighten the requirements for limiting carbon dioxide emissions in order to burn less carbon as a result. It is unlikely, however, that Congress would give an environmental agency such power. “The decision on such scope and consequences rests with Congress itself or on the basis of clear instructions from this representative body,” reads the ruling.

A new law would be needed from Congress, which would take years – the 2030 and 2050 climate goals are set. The Supreme Court thus quickly deprived Biden of an effective instrument for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The United Nations calls it loose

This could leave the United States – the world’s second largest greenhouse gas emitter – even further behind in meeting its targets. They committed to the Paris climate agreement, which provides for a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050. Accordingly, electricity should be produced in a climate-neutral manner by 2035. Climate expert David Victor of the University of California, San Diego said: New York Times: “Right now, I don’t see any way they can still achieve their goals.”

The United Nations described the verdict as “a failure in our fight against climate change.” US President Joe Biden called the Supreme Court verdict “another devastating ruling that pulls our country backwards.” The conservative majority in the Supreme Court is on the side of corporate interests, which run a yearly campaign to steal the right to clean air. “Science confirms what we see with our own eyes: fires, droughts, extreme heat, intense storms threaten our lives and livelihoods,” said Biden. “I’ll answer that.” The only question is how.

Because hopes for climate protection now rest primarily on individual countries. The economic powers in California and New York show how it works: for example, California will only register new, climate-neutral cars from 2035. However, only half of the 50 countries have adopted climate protection plans. Especially rural, conservative states with the extraction of oil and coal are holding back.

The judgment can set the right trend

Biden has promised the federal government will continue to promote environmental and climate protection. It became more difficult, however, as the current ruling also dealt with a fundamental dispute: How far can federal authorities go in setting the standards? The Supreme Court has now sent out a signal of reluctance to grant business greater leeway: Congress must detail the powers of the authorities. Otherwise, there is a risk that they themselves will make decisions that are actually the responsibility of the people’s representatives, said a majority of the court. The most conservative members of this body would like to go much further: for example, Judge Clarence Thomas has argued for years that Washington has virtually no competence in the economic sector – in fact, only individual states can pass regulations in this regard.

The judgment now available, written by the court president, court president John Roberts, adopts an intermediate course: it generally limits the scope of the federal authorities, but is so specific that the effects are so far limited to the area of ​​environmental protection. However, the business community has already started other processes by which they want to get rid of official regulations. For example, there are also court cases against the emissions regulations for cars, which were not affected by the ruling so far.

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