Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. or Joe Biden is an American politician who has been elected as the next US President. He defeated President Donald Trump in the presidential election of 2020 and will be assuming his office on 20th January 2021 as the 46th president of the country. He was the Vice President of the Obama administration from 2009 to 2017. He represented Delaware as a US Senator from 1973 till 2009.
Joe Biden has secured a historic victory in the US presidential election bringing an end to Trump’s governance. Issues concerning climate change have been one of the solid reasons for Biden’s victory and had influenced a good portion of the voters. Climate and environmental issues had always been one of the top priorities on his campaign agenda.
With him being elected for this post, it is expected that environmental and climatic concerns will be one of the basic tenets of the US administration under him. His triumph in the election is also a win for climate change.
What is the newly elected government doing to protect the environment?
The newly elected Biden government is all set to secure environmental justice and protect the environment. According to his campaign, an amount of $1.7 trillion has been assigned to be invested into a clean energy policy for the next decade. This will regenerate the energy sector of the US, boost the economy, and change the country into a superpower championing clean energy.
The first and foremost step towards strengthening the role of the US government in the environmental up-gradation involves reinstating participation in the Paris Agreement. The Biden administration would be commencing its term of governance officially from 20th January 2021. With the inception of the Biden era, the US will re-enter this international accord. This will be a major diplomatic step towards raising the country’s ambition of achieving climate goals.
During the Trump administration, environmental and industrial deregulation had been on the rise. This had sought to declare the US dominance on energy output and utilization. Examples include opening up restrictions for extraction of resources on federal lands, rolling back the emission standards for gas and oil industries, and being lenient to the abidance of the rules related to vehicle-emissions.
The Biden government strongly intends to reverse all these steps that are not environment-friendly. This involves setting methane-pollution limits for both recent and existing gas and oil operations, developing advanced fuel-economy standards that aim at guaranteeing 100% sales of lightweight and medium-duty vehicles, offering permanent protection to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and ordering a ban on the new gas and oil leasing on both public lands and waters.
Biden has promised to change the electricity system within the next ten years to ensure that it becomes emissions-free. This requires immediate development of the domestic solar and wind industries and optimum utilization of the carbon-free energy supplied by hydropower and nuclear sources. Priorities also lie in upgrading the present network infrastructure and the technology of energy-storage as both will contribute to an electrified grid operating on intermittent, diversified renewables.
Biden has proposed an investment of $400 billion towards clean energy, promoting innovative technological breakthroughs to reduce emissions and decrease pollution. The Advanced Research Projects Agency on Climate would also be set up for enhancing the growth of innovative technologies and advancing energy transitions. Tax benefits and research investments would also be provided for the expansion of the carbon capture and storage equipment to scale up the technology and reduce the deployment costs.
What should the Biden government improve to do more for the environment and the oceans?
The President-elect Joe Biden needs to put the US on the global stage and contribute effectively towards environmental improvement. To put the US back on its path of addressing the global climatic concerns, Biden has to take up a few early ventures.
Among the most important steps to be immediately taken towards improving the environment, Biden should make initiatives to re-join the Paris Agreement. This would require him to draft an official letter to the United Nations for being welcomed to the agreement as a new signatory.
According to the promises made by the President-elect, he desires to convene world leaders and organize a climate summit. Through such conventions, he shall be able to convince the big leaders of the industry-led and industry-dependent nations to decrease the emissions of greenhouse gases more effectively.
The Biden administration should look forward to revoking many of the previously executed orders of the Trump government. Among such orders, the order of March 2017 that called every federal agency to deconstruct their climate policies, deserve special mention. Many political experts think that Biden is likely to replace this with climate policies that intend to curb the emissions of greenhouse gases and direct all governmental agencies to find out ways to do the same.
Biden must use his presidential authority to put an end to the offshore fracking and drilling. This would also encourage the permanent protections that the former president Obama had initiated for great regions of the Atlantic and the Arctic Oceans. As a way to protect the environment and the oceans, he
must stop the recent moves for an expansion of the Arctic drilling. Previously, the federal government had ruthlessly expanded oil and gas drilling in Alaska, leading to its speedy warming. Biden should stop this damage by preventing new oil leases and by banning and blocking offshore drilling.
Another major crisis that he should focus more on is the urgent crisis of plastic pollution. Biden must block the projects of oil and petrochemical industries to construct plastic-making factories in Louisiana, Texas, and Pennsylvania. A moratorium should be ordered on petrochemical facilities and policy-control regulations should be updated creating stricter limits and providing more authority to the EPA to supervise the enforcement of the rules.
The president-elect has the power to construct marine monuments and offer permanent protection to the creatures of the oceanic world. Our oceans need to be protected from harmful fishing practices, sea mining, and extraction of fossil fuels. He should support international treaties and alliances formed to ensure that the endangered species all over the world receive proper protection.
What are the biggest environmental sins committed by the previous government?
Environmental safeguards are crucial to promote sustainable financial growth and provide protection to all the citizens of the USA. Under his presidentship spanning over almost four years, Trump has legislated certain regulatory rollbacks, giving the least recognition to science and causing more damage to the environment, public health, and the economy at large. Even in the face of the worldwide pandemic, the Trump administration had continued to undermine and not properly acknowledge environmental regulations.
The US government under Trump, the President USA, has continuously weakened the contribution of scientific evidence in the formulation of the environmental rules. The US Environmental Protection Agency had demanded the suspension of the advisory boards that provided science-based, external guidance and eliminated the scientists who received EPA grants.
The Clean Power Plan was issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency as a policy to decrease the emissions of greenhouse gases from power plants. This intention of global welfare was thwarted with Trump emerging as the President US. The EPA withdrew the policy and substituted it with a replacement policy, which as per the analysis of the agency would have caused more environmental damage when compared to the previous Clean Power Plan. To defend this, Trump understated the grave economic impact by putting forth a flawed analysis. The EPA did not consider the transboundary impacts and it also used higher rates of discount to undermine the future costs.
The Department of Energy retreated a policy that needed new lightbulbs to meet the standards of stringent energy-efficiency. This was originally put forth in 2007 by the Bush government. Gradually, the price of the LEDs has been reduced approximately by 90%. This would lead to an increase of around $100 in the electricity bills of the average US household each year. Under this proposal, businesses and families are expected to spend an additional amount of $12 billion per year. Resultingly, the rate of carbon emissions will also be escalated by approximately 34 million metric tons every year by 2025.
November 2019 witnessed Trump drafting a formal appeal to withdraw the USA from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which was originally signed in 2016. This international treaty is a landmark event in the history of climate change. The withdrawal of the US made it a climate loner with no representation on the global stage.
This year in March, the US government put an end to the clean car rules formulated during the Obama era in 2012. According to this environment-friendly rule, the automakers were requested to manufacture fuel-efficient vehicles that would lead to lesser pollution. However, this rollback, according to the administration will have an impact on 13, 500 jobs. The total greenhouse gas emissions between 2021 and 2035 would shoot up by 654 million metric tons.
What must the new government do to make up for this damage?
Environmental scientists have a list of issues that they want Biden to make amends to. He has the responsibility of initiating changes in the evaluation of the environmental impacts of different projects. The Biden government should properly assess the threats posed by harmful chemicals in the face of the constant downplaying of the hazards and the inflation of the economic benefits.
The Environmental Protection Network desires Biden to negate the rule that could prevent it from using health-related data which cannot be made public due to privacy and security reasons.
Many conservation scientists are eager to see how Biden blocks the permits for several energy and mining projects proposed in the regions of Minnesota and Alaska, which might pose a threat to the aquatic habitats. While paleontologists want the new president US to reinstate the fossil-rich lands in the western states, ocean scientists are looking forward to him reimposing fishing limits that had been lifted off during Trump’s reign.
The Biden administration should plan to change the US climate and energy system. The administration shall remain obliged to the workers and communities who produce fossil fuels at the cost of their lives. Though during his tenure, the former President US, Trump had pledged to restore the coal industry, it was nothing but a gimmick as a part of his election campaign against his rival, Hilary Clinton.
Supporting coal miners and fossil fuel workers occupy a prominent position on Biden’s agenda of clean energy. The Biden government shall attempt to protect the needs and safeguard the interests of the communities and workers whose lives have been impacted as a result of the energy transition. Plant workers and coal miners have powered the US economic growth for decades.
With the changes in economic trends leading to lesser dependence on coal as a source of energy, the time has come to provide the necessary assistance to these workers in the form of healthcare benefits, post-retirement pensions, upskilling programs, and appropriate investments.
The Trump administration and science had been at logger’s head with each other. Biden should reverse all the anti-science efforts of Trump and reinstate advisory committees assuring the agency scientists that their independent efforts will be acknowledged. The new US government will need to replace the existing staff with a new workforce and ensure integrity in scientific agencies.
Which democratic senators are particularly committed to protecting our environment?
John Kerry is a renowned and prominent member of the Democratic Party. Previously, he has served as a Secretary of State under the Obama government and was a Senator from Massachusetts for more than two decades. Kerry will be part of the National Security Council as an officer solely dedicated to the cause of climate change. He has been appointed by Biden as a special presidential delegate for the climate. He will be enjoying the position of a Cabinet-level official.
Being the Secretary of State, Kerry had played an influential role during the negotiation of the Paris accord. He has also launched World War Zero in 2019 to fight against environmental degradation. He was also a part of the joint task force of Biden and Bernie Sanders that was focused on providing policy recommendations related to climate.
With the appointment of Kerry, Biden has initiated a transformative and strategic climate plan. This also reflects a remarkable shift from Trump’s denial of science and the withdrawal of different climatic policies.
To gift a clean economy to the people of the US, the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis examines how environmental changes impact the country and the world at large. Its members investigate, conduct hearings on how the climate crisis is hampering the economic and national security, and also conduct outreach services with communities who are affected by climate change.
The notable members of this committee include Democratic Senators like Brian Schatz, Tammy Baldwin, Catherine Cortez Masto, Tammy Duckworth, Martin Heinrich, Jeff Merkley, Tina Smith, and Sheldon Whitehouse.
What has the Trump administration done wrong in environmental protection? Can the Biden government do this better?
The Trump administration has reduced the influence and authority of the Environmental Protection Agency. This has been reflected by their reduced prosecuting power. Criminal prosecutions have hit a 30-year low. Many infringements have been addressed in the previous years and are presently being bargained with companies. Though the past government had opined that this had streamlined their functions but environmental scientists think that this could lead to more environmental pollution.
In December 2017, Trump had dropped the issue of climate change from the list of national security threats. This refers to less research funding and a patriotic outlook on the prospective impacts of natural calamities such as droughts, forest fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.
Also, in December 2017, the Trump government had introduced a debatable change. The then government reinterpreted the Migratory Bird Treaty Act when companies installing wind turbines or laying down power lines or being involved in bird-killing activities were not considered to be violating the said act.
In July 2018, the US government had declared its intent to transform how the Endangered Species Act is regulated and managed. The Trump administration had commented that this will lead to an increased burden on the economic considerations while delegating specific habitat to particular species.
The presidentship of Joe Biden will represent almost a complete reversal of the previous US policies addressing the issue of climate change. During his election campaigns, Biden has repeatedly focused on how the US government under his leadership will tackle the issue of the environment. He has emphasized that climate change would be an important facet of his administration along with economy, social justice, national security, and foreign policy.
Biden in the coming years is likely to formulate new mandates for reduction of emissions, drive the construction of energy-efficient industries and re-establish the US on the global front as a chief climate diplomat. The entire process is said to commence with the re-joining of the Paris Agreement by the US.
Biden might overturn some of the executive orders related to the environment and energy as laid down by Trump. Though many of the previously formulated environmental policies would take years to be rolled back due to federal rules and lawsuits, the democratic senators can accelerate the overall process. What is primarily required to nullify many of the environmental rules of Trump’s administration, is a simple majority of both the chambers of Congress.
What plans does the newly elected Biden government have that are not good for environmental protection?
According to David Keith, a professor of the Harvard Kennedy School, the possibility of Biden to do something extraordinary related to climate remains comparatively smaller in comparison to the other grave issues that demand higher priority. Without entire Democratic control over the Senate, it would be difficult to execute any major law related to climate change. The necessary steps to be taken for eliminating emissions by the power sector and reach net-zero emissions by 2050, may also be out of reach with Republican authority over the Senate.
As Republicans continue to have control over the Senate, it would be difficult to get stringent environmental policies passed and properly implemented. The Biden administration would consult federal agencies and take executive actions similar to the case under former President Obama. Biden’s environmental moves are likely to face a tough time under the legal challenges of a conservative Supreme Court.
Though Biden has committed to rejoining the Paris Agreement through a formal request, mere involvement in the international fold will not give rise to any new climate policy. The US government would be required to set forth a new list of commitments aimed at reducing emissions before the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference to be held in 2021 along with a full-proof plan for diminishing climate pollution by the next 50 years.
The return of the US to the Paris Agreement would benefit global alliance concerning climate issues and encourage the rest of the nations to submit their commitments. However, improving the country’s integrity would take some time after the continuous overturn of military alliances and critical trade during the reign of Trump’s America First’.
Biden’s promise to ban fracking through an executive order might restrict the operations of the shale companies in many states. The cut-down on emissions would be a complete reversal of the relaxation of the regulations by Trump. This, though would reshape the US energy sector, might also potentially increase the prices of oil and gas.
The Biden government has a lot to do. Though its environmental ventures would have been much easier if it received Congress support, but that does not seem to be a likely option. Contrarily, the new government might have to face obstacles and fight against continuous resistance. But failure is unacceptable, more so, when the environment is at stake. The newly elected government under the able supervision of Biden must commit itself to environmental rejuvenation and bring about positive environmental transformation.
Here you can read exactly what is in the election program of the Biden-Government.