On the first day of President Biden’s term, the American people got to see a glimpse of his ambitions for the climate. Within hours of being sworn into office, Biden had already revoked permits for the Keystone Pipeline and rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement. Since then, Biden has remained vocal about his dedication to the environment. But what is different with Biden? Why do so many people think Biden will push so strong to curve CO2 emissions?
Well, because he said as much. Biden told the American people while campaigning that the climate would be a major focus for his administration. Now, while the American people may have come to not expect the promises made on the campaign trail, Biden’s first-day actions show the commitment of his pledge to the environment. However, Biden has also made more subtle moves regarding the climate, by appointing two, Obama administration, climate gurus to major offices.
Gina McCarthy, who served as Obama’s EPA administrator, is returning to the stage as Biden’s leader on domestic climate change policy. Backing her up on the world stage is John Kerry, who served under Obama as Secretary of State. Kerry will be responsible for representing the United States from a global perspective, while simultaneously rebuilding goodwill between the U.S. and countries upset at our withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. But how will Kerry rebuild these damaged relations?
The only way for Kerry to succeed is for McCarthy to also succeed. McCarthy has to act quickly and decisively for several reasons, but primarily, to show other countries of our commitment. Kerry will need concrete proof that the U.S. is dedicated to, and actively working on improving the climate. Domestic adoption of renewables will equip Kerry with the necessary ammunition to win back the trust of some of the more wary countries dedicated to the Paris Climate Agreement.
Domestically, Biden may be planning on intertwining his administration’s top priorities. In recent years, minorities have established strong footholds in environmental activism because minority and low-income communities are disproportionately affected by climate change. Biden hopes to address both climate change and racial injustice, issues that correspond surprisingly well. It would not be surprising to see proposed legislation that addresses two, or even three of his administration’s highest priorities at once. In fact, multi-tiered legislation may be the only way for the Biden administration to tackle their most ambitious goals.
All we know for now is a week into office, Biden is laying the framework on which to build a renewable energy economy, tasked with achieving net-zero emissions by 2035 for the United States, a goal that will require extensive and rapid legislation passage.