by Vanessa Brown
In my last blog post, I argued that the Ocean Climate Action Plan (“OCAP” or “Blue New Deal”) would shape Biden’s climate policy and provide the framework for the United States’ Paris Agreement re-entry. In this post I take a closer look at some of the mechanics of the Blue New Deal and the framework for the United States’ submission of its NDC in 2021.
The Blue New Deal states two principle objectives: (1) To use ocean and coastal resources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and (2) To enable coastal communities to more effectively adapt to climate impacts. It is divided into four issue areas: (1) Coastal Adaptation and Financing, (2) Sustainable Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Marine Biodiversity Conservation, (3) Offshore Renewable Energy, and (4) Ports, Shipping, and the Maritime Sector. The Plan advocates for a public-private partnership with respect to finance and recommends the U.S. join the International Platform on Sustainable Finance, sponsored by the IMF and World Bank, as well as adopt the 14 principles outlined in the Declaration of the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Appendix A provides 120 items of proposed federal legislation that addresses OCAP related issues.
In March 2019, Florida Representative Kathy Castor introduced HR 9, the Climate Action Now Act (“the Act”), in the House to direct the President to develop and submit a plan for the United States to meet its nationally determined contribution under the Paris Agreement within 120 days of the Act’s passage, providing at least a 90 day period for public comment. This is the only legislation in the Blue New Deal that specifically relates to submitting an NDC. It has already passed in the House and is presently on the Senate legislative calendar under “General Orders.”
The Act prohibits the use of funds to advance the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement. It restates the United States’ prior commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below its 2005 level by 2025 and for the federal government to reduce emissions 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. Section 4 of the Act outlines five questions the President’s plan must address. Within six months of enactment, the President is required to both produce a report that examines the effect of the Paris Agreement on clean energy job development in rural communities and enter into a contract with the National Academy of Sciences to produce a report that examines the potential impacts of a withdrawal by the United States from the Paris Agreement on the global economic competitiveness of the United States economy and on workers in the United States. The President has a year to submit an updated plan, also subject to public comment.