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Biden commits to slashing U.S. emissions in half by 2030

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President Joe Biden pledges to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 50% in 2030. Yahoo Finance's Rick Newman discusses.

Video Transcript

JULIE HYMAN: But first, we are going to dig into the climate pledge that we heard from the President. He talked about cutting emissions in half by 2030. Rick Newman has been tracking that. So what does this cut look like? Where does it come from? What's the execution like?

RICK NEWMAN: Yeah, there's not a roadmap for this yet. The Biden administration says that will come later this year. But the idea is this cut of 50% to 52% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, that is relative to the level of emissions in 2005. That does make it a little confusing, because different countries use different baselines. But however you want to measure, that would be-- that's pretty ambitious.

Now experts on this say it is technologically feasible. And the first big changes will come in the power industry, where we've already seen a fairly significant decline in greenhouse gas emissions mainly as electricity providers retire coal-fired plants and bring more solar and wind powered plants online.

So the biggest changes between now and 2030 are going to take place in the power generation sector. And then after that, they expect bigger changes in transportation, as electric vehicles and perhaps even some newer technologies come online.

BRIAN SOZZI: And Rick, what's the cost of this, and who pays for it?

RICK NEWMAN: Great question. I mean, that's what we're going to see coming out of Congress during the next several months. So there's not a single way to get this done. There are several different ways you could approach this. And it doesn't all have to be a net out-of-pocket expense. So we know that the cost, for example, the cost of wind and solar power has actually come down dramatically during the last few years. And it's likely to come down more.

So that could actually be a net savings if you can get more of that stuff instituted. We do need stuff like we do need to revamp the power grid, so you can move cheap power around more efficiently, better than you can now. That will require some new spending. So the Obama administration can give tax breaks for that. That's one thing-- excuse me, I said the Obama admin-- I mean the Biden administration. So Congress could pass tax breaks for that. That's one of the things that we've seen in a bill that Senator Ron Wyden introduced yesterday.

We're going to see more things like that. And they also want to get some private sector spending. But you've got to convince private sector, private sector investors they're going to get a significant positive return. And that's where they need to set some rules, help with permitting and things like that. This is really complicated. And we're going to see more of this strategy in legislation coming out of Congress and in this road map that the Biden administration says it will produce in a few months.

JULIE HYMAN: And you know, Rick, what you're highlighting, of course, is the sort of gap between promise and reality. And one thing that you didn't mention when you talk about Congress is the Republicans. Is there going to be push back to some of these measures of this?

RICK NEWMAN: Probably. And I mean, I think we're already used to the idea that there's really not going to be much meaningful bipartisan legislation. But there are some inducements for Republicans as well. So, for example, there's going to be a lot of spending all across the country. And some of that is going to take place in Republican districts.

Also worth pointing out is Congress has restored this practice of earmarks, which means certain members of Congress they might get a pet project in their district in exchange for supporting a piece of legislation. So in a way for Republicans, they might oppose, they might not actually vote for these bills. But they might actually get something out of these bills, which means I'm not sure the opposition is going to be as belligerent as it might be on some other issues where Republicans and Democrats fundamentally disagree.

JULIE HYMAN: Makes sense. Rick Newman, thanks so much. It'll be interesting to continue to follow this. Bye, Rick. Let's talk about this morning's brief, even though Myles is not with--