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Biden's Climate Plan

By: Ava H.

Photo from: joebiden.org


Although climate change should not be considered a political issue, in the time being it certainly is, given that the Republican party is paid by oil companies to publicly state that climate change is not happening, while the Democrats acknowledge for the most part that this crisis is occurring.


Hopefully, the depoliticization of climate change will occur one day in order to unite everyone regardless of political beliefs to help our planet before it is too late. For now, we must focus our attention on the only candidate with a climate plan, one that is actually the most ambitious proposal from a presidential nominee, Joe Biden.


On day one, Biden will have the US rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, and the curbing of pollutants can start as early as 2021. In fact, Joe Biden has released a $2 trillion climate plan. Biden’s current plan is quite promising, as it duplicates the climate plan of Jay Inslee, the most environmentally ambitious candidate of the 2020 election. The plan includes a goal to drive out coal in 15 years, create good paying union jobs, and put 40% of the 2 trillion dollars to vulnerable communities (including areas that depend on the fossil fuel industry for income (coal mining and fracking)).


There will also be a data-driven Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool to identify disadvantaged communities that are directly threatened by climate change, economic distress, racial inequality, and multi-source environmental pollution. This insightful data will allow Biden to enable agencies and the private sector to invest in these vulnerable communities that need it most, while also decreasing traditional air pollution.


Some executive orders that Biden will sign include:

  • Requiring aggressive methane pollution limits for new oil and gas operations.

  • Using the Federal government procurement system — which spends $500 billion every year — to drive towards 100% clean energy and zero-emissions vehicles.

  • Ensuring that all U.S. government installations, buildings, and facilities are more efficient and climate-ready, harnessing the purchasing power and supply chains to drive innovation.

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation — the fastest growing source of U.S. climate pollution — by preserving and implementing the existing Clean Air Act, and developing rigorous new fuel economy standards aimed at ensuring 100% of new sales for light- and medium-duty vehicles will be electrified and annual improvements for heavy duty vehicles.

  • Doubling down on the liquid fuels of the future, which make agriculture a key part of the solution to climate change. Advanced biofuels are now closer than ever as we begin to build the first plants for biofuels, creating jobs and new solutions to reduce emissions in planes, ocean-going vessels, and more.

  • Saving consumers money and reduce emissions through new, aggressive appliance- and building-efficiency standards.

  • Committing that every federal infrastructure investment should reduce climate pollution, and require any federal permitting decision to consider the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

  • Requiring public companies to disclose climate risks and the greenhouse gas emissions in their operations and supply chains.

  • Protecting biodiversity, slowing extinction rates and helping leverage natural climate solutions by conserving 30% of America’s lands and waters by 2030.

  • Protecting America’s natural treasures by permanently protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other areas impacted by President Trump’s attack on federal lands and waters, establishing national parks and monuments that reflect America’s natural heritage, banning new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters, modifying royalties to account for climate costs, and establishing targeted programs to enhance reforestation and develop renewables on federal lands and waters with the goal of doubling offshore wind by 2030.

Source: Vox.com


Biden recognizes that he cannot simply take America back to the Obama era, that this is a monumental moment in history that requires transformative policies to move us forward towards effectively combating climate change.


And to all the progressives out there who are discouraged by Biden stating he does not support the Green New Deal, I totally feel you. His plan does not ban fracking or phase out fossil fuels. Yet, it is also important to note that Biden is trying to win suburban voters and Republicans in order to beat Trump, which is one main reason why he said that in the debate. Nevertheless, Biden’s new plan is certainly an improvement from his original $1.7 trillion energy plan. And most Americans in key battleground states agree with the new climate plan’s main goal according to Data for Progress.


As Sunrise Movement co-founder Even Weber said, “Be proud and keep pushing.” Environmental activism is indeed working to push pragmatic politicians like Biden to take climate action much more seriously, and our work is not done. Once Biden gets elected, that will be the time to push him further to endorsing the Green New Deal. We need to debunk the stigma that climate action means taking away people’s jobs, because no climate action will hurt the economy far worse than investing in a sustainable future.


After Bernie dropped out of the election, Biden formed a Climate Task Force, which includes Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sunrise Movement co-founder Varshini Prakash into his environmental policy group. These appointments alone are significant, because these women are dedicated to achieving climate action. However, there is still work on getting the right environmental driven people into the room where personnel decisions are made, because that is the strategy that will make the most impact on influencing Biden’s decisions as president.


However, while it is great that the environmental intentions are there, it is a matter of whether or not this plan can be depoliticized to appeal to Republicans that determine whether or not this plan is feasible. For starters, there needs to be a Democrat Senate majority in order to make a climate plan able to pass, since Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made sure that the Green New Deal would not be passed. In addition, there needs to be an ambitious climate team at Biden’s side in order to hold him accountable to work with the EPA on carrying out these environmental goals. Nonetheless, if the United States is able to accomplish what Biden’s plan enfolds, it will be one of the largest environmental feats in not only America, but in the world, as the plan puts us along the road of science.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is up for re-election this November, and could possibly lose to Amy McGrath. Photo from: Politco.com


Whether you like it or not, the 2020 Presidential Election is the most important election in American history. We only have less than a decade to act on climate change until the effects of climate change are irreversible. Citizens in one of the wealthiest countries in the world should not feel like their only way to combat this crisis is by avoiding plastic. The lack of essential hospital equipment and access to testing proves that our country is not prepared for a crisis. However, unlike COVID- 19, we have the science and the tools to take on climate change once and for all.


Trump is the most dangerous president to the environment. Because of his polarizing political ideologies of the Trump administration and his political base, climate policies are constantly under assault. As time goes on, the president continues to dismantle environmental policies and regulations, from taking the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement to rolling back methane emissions for oil corporations. So far, the Trump Administration is reversing 100 environmental rules, with 68 of them already reversed. Many of the rollbacks are facing legal challenges in states, and 10 have actually been later reinstated. Regardless, energy and legal analysts have stated that the Trump administration’s rollbacks would cause more greenhouse gases emissions into the atmosphere and lead to thousands of extra deaths every year due to air pollution. Categories of the environmental rollbacks include air pollution and emissions, drilling and extraction, infrastructure and planning, animals, water pollution, toxic substances and safety, and more.


To find a full list of the environmental rollbacks, check out the Climate Deregulation Tracker:



Although the rapid amount of environmental rollbacks occurring is quite worrisome, the one upside is that most of these rollbacks will take years to be reversed, so it’s not like they are happening right away. For instance, the United States cannot withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement until November 2020, meaning that if Joe Biden wins, then the United States will never have actually left the agreement.


All in all, the 2020 election will determine if the intended environmental damage that the Trump administration is striving for actually occurs. If Trump wins re-election, many legal challenges to the environmental rollbacks will be settled in court rulings, even though many environmental groups have been winning. The Trump administration can also delay efforts to reduce carbon emissions, by pushing this back to 2034 or later, even though rapid carbon emissions cuts are needed by 2030 to meet the Paris targets.


Former President Obama and Vice President Biden looking into solar panels. Photo from: solarindustrymag.com


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Discussion Questions:

  • What are your thoughts on Biden's climate plan? Are there any areas you see there could be improvement in?

  • How do you think climate change can be depoliticized effectively?


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