Week Ahead

The Week Ahead

High Court To Hear Major Climate Change Suit Ahead of Biden Inauguration

January 15, 2021

The Supreme Court is poised to hear oral arguments in a closely watched climate change nuisance suit seeking damages from the oil sector over its role in climate change, while President-elect Joe Biden is set to be sworn into office amid expectations he will reinvigorate federal climate policy.

High Court Arguments

The nine Supreme Court justices will hear oral arguments Jan. 19 in BP PLC, et al. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, which focuses on the key question of whether this case and a raft of other climate change nuisance suits brought by local governments can be heard in state or federal court.

The court granted a request from the Trump administration’s acting solicitor general for a 10-minute slot during the arguments, allowing the outgoing administration to push its view that the nuisance suits should be heard in federal court and ultimately dismissed as preempted by the Clean Air Act.

Background Reading: High Court May Rule Beyond Narrow Question In Climate Nuisance Case

Biden Inauguration

President-elect Biden is poised to take the oath of office at noon Jan. 20, officially kicking off a four-year term after a campaign in which he has pledged to make climate change one of his top priorities.

Biden is promising to take a whole-of-government approach to climate, tasking each federal agency to use its authority to address the issue while also pursuing new legislation through the Democratic-controlled Congress. Democrats will initially focus on an infrastructure bill with major clean energy components, with Biden set to unveil a proposed package next month during an address before a joint session of Congress.

However, some climate advocates are still hoping that Congress can enact some version of a clean energy standard, which would be a major tool to achieve Biden’s ambitious goal for a carbon-free power sector by 2035.

Background Reading: As Democrats Eye Hill Strategy, Supporters Float Flurry Of CES Options

Fossil Fuels

The New York Times is hosting a Jan. 19 forum on whether 2021 will be “the year we break fossil fuel addiction,” given various countries’ attempts to enact economic recovery plans following the pandemic.

The event will feature representatives from environmental groups, clean power companies and a United Kingdom official who is helping to organize this November’s United Nations climate meeting in Scotland.

Carbon Removal

The Institute for Carbon Removal Law and Policy is hosting a Jan. 22 webinar to discuss legislative opportunities to advance carbon removal.

Zero-Emission Financing

The Atlantic Council hosts its fifth annual Global Energy Forum Jan. 19-22 to discuss the geopolitical, environmental and social implications of energy policies. The agenda includes panel discussions on net-zero emissions financing, changing U.S. politics regarding climate change, and the incoming Biden administration’s clean energy and climate agenda.


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