Yellen says US back on track to ending fossil-fuels dependence

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The US is on track to hit ambitious emissions-reduction goals following recent climate legislation that encourages investment in green technology, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will say in a speech in Detroit on Thursday.

The law, signed by President Joe Biden on Aug. 16, “represents the largest investment in fighting climate change in our country’s history,” Yellen will say, according to an excerpt provided to Bloomberg News.

“It will put us well on our way toward a future where we depend on the wind, sun and other clean sources for our energy,” she plans to say. “We will rid ourselves from our current dependence on fossil fuels and the whims of autocrats like Putin,” she said, referring to the Russian president.

The speech represents an attempt to re-frame the Biden administration’s push to cut emissions from fossil fuels, which has come under fire from Republicans after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused oil prices to spike. Republicans have said the president’s hostility toward increasing crude production in the US has helped worsen the situation.

Biden and Yellen have countered that the price spike represents more reason to move away from fossil fuels.

Yellen said experts have estimated the new law – called the Inflation Reduction Act because it also aims to reduce the cost of prescription medication – will put the US on a path to cut emissions by about 40 per cent within eight years, compared with 2005 levels. She didn’t cite any studies backing that claim in the excerpt, and didn’t provide further steps the US aims to take to reach net zero.

On his first day in office in 2021, Biden signed an executive order re-committing the US to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate, which pledges to reduce emissions by 50 per cent by 2030.

“While there is much more work to do, we can finally say to ourselves and to the world that we are on a path to a net-zero emissions economy,” Yellen will say.

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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