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This week in climate policy: 4 stories you should follow

The Biden administration continues to back nuclear energy despite its upfront costs; elections across the globe are defining the future of climate policy.

A picture of a nuclear reactor

The Indian Point nuclear plant in New York State shutdown in 2021, only to see a rise in state emissions grow. Photo: Shutterstock/Mihai_Andritoiu

Here are the major climate policy developments for this week:

  • Last week, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm continued the Biden administration’s support for nuclear energy when she appeared at the opening of the newly constructed Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia. Despite the delays and $35 billion in costs associated with the Vogtle project, in tandem with the U.S. public’s lukewarm reception to using nuclear energy, the administration continues to prioritize the controversial clean energy source. The $40 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act allows substantial funding from the Department of Energy’s Loan Program Office to finance nuclear energy projects.
  • 2024 is the year of important elections around the globe. The U.S., U.K., France, Taiwan, India, Bangladesh, Algeria and Pakistan will all vote later this year. Russia, Mexico, Iran and South Africa have all declared results so far. Their outcomes will have a tangible impact on the future of climate policy, with many countries trying to move away from coal and combating ever-growing summers experiencing extreme heat. Across the Atlantic, President Emmanuel Macron of France called a sudden national election after his centrist Renaissance party was beaten in continent-wide elections for the European parliament. The election will feature two rounds: The first is open to all parties and the second is a face-off between the two top vote-getters from round one. Across the EU, the ruling center-right European People’s Party came top in elections, however, far-right and far-left parties both made gains — particularly in France and Germany — reducing EU President Ursula von der Leyen’s majority. That will make it more difficult for von der Leyen’s ruling coalition to pass ambitious climate action legislation. 
  • It’s official: In May, the U.S.’s clean energy sector created 1,300 new jobs and $950 million in investments were announced, all due to the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, according to new data from E2, the green business lobby group. Projects such as the $550 million green hydrogen production facility in Arizona and a $193 million manufacturing hub in Georgia to build parts for clean energy technologies contributed to the month’s stellar performance. "Despite rising market uncertainty amid growing threats from lawmakers, America’s clean energy economy showed once again why it is an economic powerhouse that continues to attract investment from across the globe," said Michael Timberlake, communications director at E2.
  • Developing countries want to tax their rich counterparts to finance climate initiatives, according to an unpublished paper from the Group of 77 (G-77) and China. Specifically, they want to impose taxes on weapons, apparel and tech, raising what they claim would be $441 billion — equivalent to 0.8 percent of the wealthiest countries’ GDP. The global taxes would be levied on the sales from defense companies, top fashion firms, and the top seven global technology firms to fund climate action programs in poorer countries. Sources say the paper argues that "the matter in question is not whether the resources exist, it is whether there is political will to prioritize climate change."

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