Biden to highlight climate policy at State of the Union

Will renew his call for Congress to take action on climate change

Storm clouds are seen over the White House on Aug. 16, 2021. President Joe Biden will renew his call for Congress to take action on climate change in his State of the Union address. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Storm clouds are seen over the White House on Aug. 16, 2021. President Joe Biden will renew his call for Congress to take action on climate change in his State of the Union address. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted March 1, 2022 at 8:00am

President Joe Biden will highlight during his first State of the Union address how a mix of spending on climate change measures and clean energy tax credits could cut costs for American families an average of $500 per year, according to an administration official.

Biden will renew his call for Congress to take action on climate change during Tuesday night’s speech, which comes one day after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a 3,600-page report and summary that paints a brutal picture of the planet’s future as climate change causes more intense heat, droughts and extreme weather.

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“Climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health,” according to the assessment from leading scientists. “Any further delay in concerted anticipatory global action on adaptation and mitigation will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.”

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a statement that he’d seen a lot of reports, but none like the one released Monday, calling it “an atlas of human suffering and damning indictment of failed climate leadership.”

Biden has sought to rally the global community behind more aggressive actions to cut greenhouse gas emissions. That includes pledging the United States to cut emissions from utilities, the transportation sector and elsewhere as part of an overall 50 percent reduction in U.S. emissions, from 2005 levels, by 2030.

The bipartisan infrastructure law provides some support for those goals with funding for electric vehicle deployment, as an example.

But the reconciliation measure that Democrats titled “Build Back Better,” which includes $555 billion worth of climate provisions, remains stuck in the Senate.

Progressive lawmakers had pushed to have the bill move ahead of the address, but to no avail.

Biden can try to use his speech to get it moving again, but he’s also aware that American voters are worried about rising inflation, the coronavirus pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The stakes are high for Democrats facing a potentially rocky midterm election this fall in which they could lose their congressional majorities.

Biden is expected to cast climate change measures as an economic opportunity, as he has frequently done since taking office, based on a fact sheet provided by the senior administration official, who briefed reports Monday on the condition he not be identified. Specifically, that refers to the benefits that would flow for consumers, companies and communities from the spending and tax credits for domestic clean energy manufacturing.