Biden Turns Up the Heat to Lower Global Warming: Key Takeaways of Biden’s Action Plan for the Climate Crisis

Photo Credit: Doug Mills, New York Times

On his first full day in office President Biden recommitted the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement, promptly halted the Keystone Pipeline, and ordered a review and reinstatement of over one hundred environmental regulations the prior administration weakened or set aside. Within his first week, Biden kicked off his climate change agenda with  a comprehensive Executive Order on Tackling Climate Change at Home and Abroad. The Biden plan includes renewable energy investments, climate policy adoption, commitments to environmental and social justice, sustainable infrastructure development, and much more. 

While we encourage you to dive into the full Biden Climate Plan plan for yourself – Here’s what you need to know:

The Goal
The overarching goal of the Biden Climate Plan is for the U.S. to achieve carbon-free electricity production by 2035 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Biden administration aims to build a modern, sustainable infrastructure and an equitable clean energy future offering specific and immediate actions as set forth in this Fact Sheet.

On Foreign Policy & National Security

  • Recommitts to the Paris Agreement
  • Establishes the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, led by a newly appointed National Climate Advisor and Deputy National Climate Advisor, charged with implementing the President’s domestic climate agenda.
  • The President will host a Global Leaders’ Climate Summit on Earth Day, April 22, 2021, aimed at persuading major emitters to strengthen their national commitments through significant new investments in global climate mitigation.
  • Appoints a new position of Special Presidential Envoy for Climate (former Secretary of State, John Kerry), to have a seat on the National Security Council and focus on elevating issues of climate change.
  • Establishes a National Climate Task Force, composed of leaders from across 21 federal agencies/departments to meet climate goals through key Federal actions to reduce climate pollution; increase resilience to the impacts of climate change; protect public health; conserve our lands, waters, oceans, and biodiversity; deliver environmental justice; and spur well-paying union jobs and economic growth.
  • Reinstates 2016 Presidential Memoranda on Climate Change and National Security ensuring that climate change-related impacts are fully considered in the development of national security doctrine, policies, and plans. This memorandum was previously revoked by the Trump administration in 2017.

On Energy and Emissions 

  • Actively works to achieve carbon-free electricity production by 2035 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
  • Delegates executive leadership to identify steps through which the United States can promote ending international financing of carbon-intensive fossil fuel-based energy while simultaneously advancing sustainable development and a green recovery.
  • Enacts an Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization to coordinate the identification and delivery of Federal resources to revitalize the economies of coal, oil and gas, and power plant communities; develop strategies to implement the policy and for economic and social recovery; assess opportunities to ensure benefits and protections for coal and power plant workers; and submit reports on progress of the revitalization effort.
  • Reinstatement of Obama era regulations to drastically cut fossil fuel emissions from cars. This will put in place fuel economy standards that will require automakers to build and sell cars that reach an average of 54 miles per gallon by 2025.

On Conservation, Jobs, and Sustainable Infrastructure

  • Establishes a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative, to be submitted within 90 days, that intends to put Americans to work conserving and restoring public lands and waters, increasing reforestation, increasing carbon sequestration in the agricultural sector, protecting biodiversity, improving access to recreation, and addressing climate change.
  • Commitment to conserve at least 30 percent of U.S. lands and oceans by 2030. (“30 by 30goal is based on the scientifically informed belief that conserving 30% of the planet’s land and 30% of its water is necessary to slow climate change and to protect roughly 75% of earth’s species).
  • Pauses new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or offshore waters to the extent possible, and to review all existing such leases. Federal agencies are to seek ways to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies in collaboration with international leadership.
  • Commitments to ensure that Federal infrastructure investment reduces climate pollution, and to require that Federal permitting decisions consider the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

On Environmental Justice and Climate Equity

  • Proposes a government-wide Justice40 Initiative focusing on investments in the areas of clean energy and energy efficiency; clean transit; affordable and sustainable housing; training and workforce development; the remediation and reduction of legacy pollution; and the development of critical clean water infrastructure. The Initiative seeks to redistribute 40% of the overall benefits from relevant federal investments to disadvantaged communities.
  • Establishes the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council to develop a strategy to address current and historic environmental injustice. Includes additional accountability measures such as screening and monitoring tools to support strengthening the enforcement of environmental violations with a disproportionate impact on underserved communities.
  • Establish an Office of Climate Change and Health Equity to address the impact of climate change on public health. Also establishes an Interagency Working Group to decrease risk of climate change to children, the elderly, people with disabilities, and the vulnerable.

While this is far from a comprehensive plan to address the entirety of the climate emergency, we are cautiously optimistic that we are on the right path. And so, we at the Ecology Center  remain multi-issue and aware of the entire ecosystem and focused on solutions. The White House encourages citizens to get involved, including applying for jobs, internships, and fellowships. To get active locally, join the Ecology Center’s Berkeley Climate Action Coalition, which focuses on supporting the City of Berkeley to implement its 40-year 2009 Climate Action Plan.

 

References:
City of Berkeley Climate Action Plan
Earth Day Summit Will Mark U.S. Return to Global Climate Talks
Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad
Here’s how Biden can help conserve 30% of U.S. land by 2030
SCA Statement on Biden Civilian Climate Corps

 

This article was written by James Hosley of the Ecology Center Helpdesk


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