Climate breathes sigh of relief as Biden named President Elect
“We’re told by all the leading scientists in the world we don’t have much time,” Biden has said. “We’re going to pass the point of no return within the next eight to 10 years. Four more years of this man [Trump] will put us in a position where we’ll be in real trouble.”
Thankfully for climate advocates the world over, the US has elected a man who believes in science as its next president and Kamala Harris as vice president.
But jubilation about the soon to be realised ousting of the climate-denying, protection-destroying, current president might be short lived. As with all good intentions, Biden’s making change actually happen rather than saying it should, is an uphill battle.
While Biden has said he’ll put people to work in green jobs to boost the economy, the political reality may have other ideas.
Although Biden declined to accept campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry according to National Geographic, and seeks to end subsidies for the industry domestically and abroad, he doesn’t go as far as some would hope.
“We’re not getting rid of fossil fuels. We’re getting rid of the subsidies for fossil fuels, but we’re not getting rid of fossil fuels for a long time,” Biden has said. Those kinds of statements, according to the Guardian, show why American environmental advocates have quietly worried whether Biden will do enough on climate, even as they have endorsed him and backed his plan.
Plus, the prospect of a global green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is hanging in the balance, as countries pour money into the fossil fuel economy to stave off a devastating recession, an analysis for the Guardian has revealed. Only a handful of major countries are pumping rescue funds into low-carbon efforts such as renewable power, electric vehicles and energy efficiency.
According to National Geographic, Biden aims to end fossil fuel use for electricity within 15 years and will seek to invest $400 billion over 10 years in clean energy and climate research. He’ll use tax policy and other mechanisms to incentivise rapid deployment of innovations. He plans to drive the spread of electric vehicles, and proposes to double offshore wind production by 2030.
Biden advisers say climate change is one of ‘the four crises’ he will put a priority on addressing (the others are the pandemic, the economy, and racial injustice). Biden says the United States will re-join the Paris climate accord on his first day in office — which he can do with the stroke of a pen — and he will issue executive orders to strengthen climate protections, according to Science Mag.
There is a long list of restoration of protections being sought.
Among those, ocean scientists want Biden to reimpose fishing limits that Trump lifted at a marine monument off the coast of New England, says Science Mag.
On the campaign trail, Biden has said he supports phasing out single-use plastics and remove Arctic waters from consideration for oil and gas development. He opposes new permits for oil development on public lands and will ban offshore drilling. But he recently said he “would not ban fracking”.
His focus on investment into clean energies could reduce US crude supply, which could change tanker trading patterns globally and push down rates, according to Rivieramm.
But many of Trump’s non-environmental policies could take years to roll-back because of lawsuits, and because control of the senate is not assured, and the supreme court is out of reach.
The next few weeks will be gripping as the USA battles for democracy, but hopefully the next few years will be less of a knife edge as science, compassion, empathy and concern are leading mantras in a Biden presidency.