A Green American Future? Joe Biden’s Plan to combat Climate Change
Biden pledges immediate action and calls climate change the #1 issue facing humanity
President-Elect Joe Biden and President Donald Trump disagreed on many points during their respective 2020 campaigns, but their most divisive opposition might have been on climate change. While Trump is an open climate denier who rolled back environmental regulations and posed no plan to combat the issue, Joe Biden vows to make it a central focus of his presidency.
Biden ambitiously promises to work towards 100% clean electricity in America by 2035. He also aims for carbon neutrality by 2050, which will keep global temperatures within 1.5 degrees Celsius of pre-Industrial averages.
Further, he has vowed to reenter the Paris Climate Accords, likely immediately following his inauguration. Getting back into Paris will rekindle America’s clean energy aspirations on the international scale, reopening conversations with other carbon emitting powerhouses like China and the European Union as we strive for a healthier planet.
On that same international note, Biden also plans to follow up on (and perhaps inflate) an Obama Administration pledge of $3 million to the Green Climate Fund— a U.N. project helping developing nations create clean energy infrastructure. The first billion was already paid while Obama was in office, but since Trump came to power in 2017, the U.S. has not contributed a single penny.
This demonstrates that many of Biden’s environmental plans are contingent upon political cooperation now and in the future. Surely, he can set the seeds for fifteen or thirty year plans, but in order for them to have longevity, he will need consensus with his colleagues and successors, many of whom reside across the aisle.
Restoring environmental safeguards Trump abolished is Job 1 but may prove an uphill battle
Similar to the Obama Administration, Biden will have to work with and through a Republican Senate to pass environmental laws. While the President-Elect can enter international agreements and revoke many of Trump’s deregulation policies from a solely Executive standpoint, his overall plan involves creating green jobs, decreasing dependency on fossil fuels, and investing in sustainable clean energy. The whole lot will cost $1.7 trillion and need approval from Congress.
Luckily, for all of its turmoil, the 2020 election taught America that climate change is no longer a superfluous issue in the minds of voters. According to the Sierra Club, tangible heat waves linked to global warming may have swayed Arizona to go blue this year.
Meanwhile, even capitalistic institutions are seeing the economic viability in green energy, as several automakers have backed California’s push for electric vehicles. Independents, Republicans, and Democrats alike are all starting to notice the unavoidable scientific evidence. For politicians to remain relevant, they can no longer ignore or deny such a bipartisan topic.
Of course, this is an optimistic viewpoint. After all, it was just four years ago when America elected Donald Trump. Since then, he’s managed to retract over a hundred environmental regulations.
He retained heavy support even as he left the Paris Accords, championed the fossil fuel industry, allowed for drilling and mining on public lands, lifted protections on endangered species, and left vulnerable communities around the world even more susceptible to ecological crises.
Evidently, Biden’s election does not mean that America immediately becomes a nation united in conservation efforts. However, it’s a clear step in the right direction. Unlike many other presidents before him, Biden has a plan for climate change, and his election suggests that prioritizing the environment will be a political priority for many campaigns to come.
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