Whatever you think about the Trump administration, its track record on climate change has been disappointing.
From calling climate change a hoax (but then later saying it’s a ‘very serious subject’) to pulling out of the Paris Agreement (and then saying the environment is 'very important'), Trump’s commentary on climate change has frequently been confusing and contradictory.
(If you’re interested in finding out more about Trump’s environmental legacy, you can visit the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law page)
So now that the 2020 US Presidential elections are over will a change at the top be better for the environment? And what will a Biden Presidency mean for Climate Change?
According to the BBC, Biden’s plan for climate change has been described as ‘the most ambitious of any mainstream US presidential candidate yet’.
What Could a Biden Presidency Mean for the Environment?
- Crucially, Biden has said that he intends to re-join the Paris Agreement on tackling greenhouse gas emissions and moving towards a low-carbon future.
- He also wants the US producing carbon-free electricity by 2035 and to be net-zero by 2050. The Atlantic describes Biden as saying that ‘the elimination of carbon pollution from the economy—must be central to how the country recovers from the coronavirus recession’.
- What’s also interesting is the emphasis on job creation. By generating and building up clean-energy industries and through investment in public transport and infrastructure networks, it’s hoped that the US economy will grow faster. And that’s what’s going to be key in getting the support of Republicans.
- Biden’s campaign website also recognises the disproportionate impact that climate change often has on different demographics.
The Carbon Brief website reminds us that, in addition to COVID-19, 2020 has also seen an increase in wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, drought and heatwaves right across the US and these are affected by climate change. These often affect communities of colour and people living in poverty more keenly.
If you’re interested in finding out climate change exacerbates social inequality, the UN published a paper in 2017 detailing the problem.
The Financial Times has reported that many of the 100 ‘major environmental regulations’ overturned by the Trump administration will be reinstated by Biden’s team.
Biden’s plans for climate change are promising but it’ll be interesting to see how far and how committed the President-Elect really is. His plans are not as ambitious as the New Green Deal pushed by several democrats including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The New Green Deal
The New Green Deal would see the US ‘achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across the US economy by 2030’ but it has faced significant pushback from Republicans.
But Biden is already facing criticism for several of his ‘new-hires’ which include those with connections to the oil and gas industry as well as some with a ‘history of poor engagement with vulnerable communities…’ Climate groups have already made plans to occupy Democratic National Committee Headquarters in protest.
Biden’s plans will (to some extent) also depend on whether or not the Republican Party retains control of the Senate — something which will be decided in January.