It’s a new phase for America, as Biden’s environmental agenda is center stage on Day 1 of his presidency.
For the past four years, the environment has not been on the US political agenda. We’ve withdrawn from the Paris Accord under President Trump. We continue to support big business over natural resources and human health and quality of life. And, finally, fossil fuels are still preferred and subsidized.
Their administration has pledged to prioritize the environment. They are looking towards a more resilient and sustainable future that protects natural lands and resources, shifts our energy agenda to renewables, and stands up for underprivileged communities facing pollution and adversity brought on by large polluters.
Recognizing that climate change is a costly consequence of inaction, a national security issue, and a global threat, this new administration has developed a thorough plan to combat it, both home and away. In addition to climate change, social equity and protection of natural resources top the list for the Biden environmental plan. Let’s take a quick look at the Biden administration’s environmental promises.
biden and the paris accord
Biden promised to rejoin the Paris Accord on Day 1. So far so good. On January 20th, 2020, the first day of his presidency, he signed the necessary documents to reenter the international agreement.
But this is the smallest of steps, because the Paris Accord is more of a gentlemen’s handshake than anything binding.
However, it speaks volumes to have evacuated from it, as President Trump did; 194 countries have joined to recognize the urgent need for action to adapt to and mitigate climate change. Pulling out of it was short-sighted, selfish, and dangerous to international relations and global stability.
President Biden has begun the process of rejoining but is aware that demonstrating good faith in this manner isn’t enough. He uses phrases like ‘lead by example’, and ‘encourage others’, and ‘hold them accountable.’
Although I appreciate this, we’ve fallen far in the last few years. There’s work to be done at home before we start demanding more from other nations. Manufacturing the technology, funding research, and partnering with committed nations and international organizations will help us “lead by example.” We need to do this before we start writing up pink slips for other countries.
And the President does recognize that home is where the work starts, too. He has outlined plans to turn America into a clean, green, net-zero carbon machine by 2050.
biden’s domestic environmental agenda
Biden believes that America, the great and powerful, should be the leader of renewable energy, climate mitigation, clean transit options, fairtrade and green financing.
In Biden’s environmental agenda, he outlines some major steps to create a more sustainable America.
create jobs here at home with a renewable energy plan
The argument against reducing our fossil fuel use has always been based on the economic consequences: because without replacements, people face job loss.
So President Biden has committed to a $400 billion investment over the next 10 years to create well-paying jobs in research and manufacturing of green tech. His plan is to lead in these spaces by 2030, and the only way to do that is to employ American talent, here at home.
protection and recognition of industrial revolution work force
As we transition into clean energy, we move away from coal and fossil fuels. Biden’s administration has considered the hardships associated with the loss of fossil fuel industry jobs. He hopes to alleviate them by ensuring family benefits for those with compromised health issues or premature deaths associated with coal mining. In addition to that, it will be important to secure new economic opportunity in coal mining towns. So his team wants to find ways to transition communities into new industries. In order to support growth in new and varied sectors, it will be important to capitalize on the individual uniqueness of each region.
much-needed infrastructure updates will be done with an eye on climate and resiliency
The Biden administration plans to invest in crumbling infrastructure with considerations for the long term, and purpose-driven, value-added benefits. The idea is not just to rebuild; instead, rebuild better, and towards resiliency with embedded climate change fighting elements. With smart investments, the administration will rejuvenate our infrastructure while both combatting climate change and adapting to its current forces, such as strong storms and sea level rise.
improve transit options
“Biden will develop a plan to ensure that America has the cleanest, safest, and fastest rail system in the world – for both passengers and freight.” Biden wants to improve the railroad systems for commuters and freight alike. This will reduce pollution associated with shipping and personal transport use, as well as improve speed and efficiency of the movement of goods across the country and in specific regions.
vows for social justice where environmental burdens are disproportionately distributed
Environmental degradation, such as polluted air and waterways, is not evenly distributed. Undeniably, minorities, low-income communities, and indigenous populations suffer most from the negligence of governments and major corporations. Biden’s environmental agenda will protect these communities from further harm by taking a personalized approach to solving environmental and social injustices within each region. The administration recognizes the need for community ownership and the role of federal agencies to facilitate capacity building and grassroots solutions.
clean, safe drinking water across America
Flint Michigan, although a recognizable case in our domestic drinking water crisis, is not alone. We need an updated water distribution system to guarantee clean drinking water for every American. Testing, standards adherence, and safe, reliable water supplies and infrastructure are needed across the nation. And major corporations should be held accountable and prevented from polluting water sources or overdrawing to the point of collapse.
Each municipality, county, and district faces unique dependencies and relationships between surface water, municipal water supplies, water flows, local industries, oceans, precipitation, changing temperatures, and more. Due of this, Biden’s administration will take a regional approach to solving pollution and scarcity issues throughout the country.
biden and ambitions abroad
Over the past four years, our international relationships have been strained. We’ll need to rebuild, and ally up again with some countries, and get tough on others. The new administration is looking to hold more players accountable for their contribution to skyrocketing greenhouse gas emissions and to support developing countries and small island developing states in their pursuit of green development.
use trade as a climate fighting tool
China is a refuge for major polluters. The Biden administration recognizes that our trade policies must reflect our values. Therefore, we need to address how we engage in business with nations and corporations that ignore climate change.
Trade policies will be linked to the enforceable agreements Biden intends to initiate within the first 100 days of office.
Biden’s administration hopes to use trade to incentivize carbon-reducing strategies across the globe.
international policies to encourage carbon mitigation and emissions reductions
There’s more where that came from. Not only trade incentives will be used to fight carbon, but there will be direct financial implications around mitigation.
- Firstly, in collaboration with G20 nations, Biden’s team wants to abolish subsidies for high emission technologies. Instead, funding for low carbon replacements will be made available. With an eye on China, exporting high-emitting technologies to lower income countries will not be tolerated.
- Secondly, initiating quality partnerships with countries prioritizing the climate agenda will strengthen capacity.
- Lastly, debt relief for developing countries will enable strategic growth that takes into consideration climate mitigation, adaptation, and resiliency. Offering fair pricing for American clean energy exports will also improve global availability.
biden’s process of going green
The new administration developed and publicized their plan for addressing major environmental issues, oftentimes attaching a timeline to the goals.
Below are a few of the scheduled promises of Biden’s environmental agenda. It will be interesting to keep an eye on what he accomplishes and when.
- Rejoin Paris Accord (Check. Good work, Joe.)
- Stop the Keystone XL permit (check. *clap*clap*clap*clap*clap)
first 100 days:
- Engage major carbon-emitting nations in a climate world summit to mobilize global action toward the climate agenda
- Go beyond the Paris Accord, and initiate enforceable agreements to reduce emissions in both shipping and aviation sectors.
- Look back to the Montreal Protocol as a guide for reducing hydrofluorocarbons, which is significant to reduce global temperatures
- Create a means to enforce carbon emissions across all sectors and hold polluters accountable for the cost of their emissions. Create a ‘carbon emissions accountability mechanism’ that will help America achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
by end of first term:
- Phase out fossil fuel subsidies globally.
- America will lead in clean energy research, investment, commercialization, manufacturing, and exports of clean energy.
- Reduce the carbon footprint of buildings by 50%.
We’ll watch to see how this plan unfurls, but it is promising to see it scheduled out and already being initiated. There is hope in the thought, research, and planning that went into this green plan. If you want to see the details of he plan, visit The Biden Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice.
He stuck to his promise for Day 1. Let’s hope he keeps it up.