The bumps ahead for Joe Biden’s plan to decarbonise America

IN 2020 LOCKDOWNS caused the largest single-year drop in America’s greenhouse-gas emissions on record: some 10%. Even then, for every American 16 metric tons of carbon dioxide were released into the atmosphere. By 2050 President Joe Biden would like that number to be net zero.

Getting there within three decades seems daunting. Every sector, not just electricity generation, would need decarbonising. Other things like cars, buildings, farms and factories (which together produce three-quarters of today’s emissions) would need to go the same route. Action so comprehensive could only come from Congress, which has long been deadlocked. On March 31st Mr Biden unveiled his effort to right this state of affairs.

In total his American Jobs Plan would cost more than $2trn over eight years. Half of this is devoted to matters like fixing roads and bridges, establishing universal broadband and removing lead pipes that carry water. The $1trn or so of climate-specific spending is roughly half the size of the clean-energy plan Mr Biden released during his campaign. It appears to have been slimmed down so that its costs could eventually be covered by a corporate-tax increase. Still, if...

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