The 2020 US presidential election is over. The votes have been counted. And Americans of every stripe had their say in who will lead us as president for the next four years.
And now it’s time to get to work.
With the world growing warmer and each year breaking new heat records, urgent action to end the climate crisis cannot wait.
It’s good news then that the incoming Biden Administration has made some big promises when it comes to climate action. But we know it’s never that simple. That’s why it’s so important to stand up and continue to say, “It’s time to act!”
With that in mind, here are three things President-elect Joe Biden and his administration can do in its first 100 days that would show the world that the United States is back and ready to lead on climate. No trade-offs. No half measures. Just real, urgent climate action – now… before it’s too late.
Restore American Leadership on Climate
Let’s start with the simple stuff.
President-elect Biden should immediately recommit the United States to the Paris Agreement, the breakthrough deal signed by (nearly) every nation in the world to cut greenhouse gas emissions and together limit global warming.
And when we say simple, we mean it: All doing so would require is a letter to the United Nations, which would take effect 30 days later.
Following the announcement in June 2017 that the US would withdraw from the agreement, an ever-rising number of cities and states took their futures in their own hands and decided not to wait for the federal government to act on climate. Commitments to 100 percent renewable electricity, improved public transportation, and energy efficiency followed – but it’s still not enough. If we have any hope of reaching the Paris Agreement’s stretch goal of keeping global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius or below and preventing the true worst of the climate crisis, the US needs to be all in.
We need to not only return to the Paris Agreement – we need to adopt new, more ambitious greenhouse gas reduction commitments… and we need to put the full array of diplomatic and economic tools available to us to work to ensure other countries increase their ambitions too.
Rebuild America with Clean Energy and Green Jobs
President-elect Biden’s plans for economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic state that he “believes this is no time to just build back to the way things were before, with the old economy’s structural weaknesses and inequalities still in place. This is the moment to imagine and build a new American economy for our families and the next generation.”
We agree – and to us, that means any economic stimulus should confront the struggling economy, COVID-19 pandemic, growing climate crisis, and racial injustice together head-on, using clean energy and climate action to create millions of good, green jobs, revitalize frontline communities, accelerate a just energy transition, and drive an equitable and just recovery across the US.
There are tremendous possibilities here, from increasing spending on weatherizing low- and moderate-income housing and sending billions to mayors and local leaders to reduce emissions to increasing incentives for renewable energy, electric vehicles, and green construction to setting a national clean electricity standard with a goal to reach 100 percent clean electricity by 2035.
Of course, he can’t do this one on his own; any stimulus bill will have to work its way through Congress before getting back to the president’s desk.
That’s why it never hurts to keep the Capitol Switchboard’s phone number handy.
The US Capitol Switchboard can be reached at (202) 224-3121. An operator will connect you directly with the office of the US senator or representative you request. And of course, visit the Senate and House of Representatives websites for additional contact information for your elected leaders.
Contacting your elected officials is a useful way to communicate your opinions on the climate crisis, especially when an action (such as a vote, like on a major green stimulus… or something) is pending. Although it’s unlikely you’ll speak directly to the official, their staff tracks the number of calls they receive on various topics, and most legislators do pay attention to communications from their constituents.
Repeal Environmental Rollbacks Using Executive Authority
This is one area where President-elect Biden has been plain: He intends to use the power of executive action to make moves on climate. In many cases, he intends to roll back the rollbacks of the last four years.
- Strongly limiting the methane emissions permitted for new oil and gas operations.
- Ensuring that all US government infrastructure built on his watch is efficient and ready for our changing climate.
- Using the buying power of the federal government to drive innovation and investment toward 100 percent renewable energy.
- Enacting rigorous new fuel-economy standards for vehicles that promote the transition away from internal-combustion engines in favor of electric vehicles.
- Banning new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters, reforesting many areas, and where appropriate, developing renewables on federal lands and waters, “with the goal of doubling offshore wind by 2030.”
Among several others.
The environmental community has been keen to find ways a new administration can act on climate without having to take the fight through our divided, often paralyzed Congress. It seems there are plenty – and while they might not seem as sweeping as a Green New Deal, the many moves the president-elect can take through executive action, as well as through various budget and spending processes and other procedures, can mark an important step forward in the fight for a better tomorrow.
>> Free Download: Your Guide to Climate Action in 2020 <<
It’s Time to Act on Climate
We cannot take for granted that these actions will happen on their own. We have to raise our voices up to make sure all our leaders – whether we voted for them or not – take the necessary actions for the change we need to happen.
We know it can be easy to become disheartened in such a divisive political environment. But remember, from civil rights to gender equality to marriage equality, no great movement ever saw lasting progress come easily.
So let’s get to work. Let’s rebuild America even better with the green jobs, efficient buildings, and climate smart roads and infrastructure that can put Americans to work, create healthy communities, and help avoid the worst of the climate crisis. Let’s rejoin the Paris Agreement, and let’s take environmental regulation and government spending power seriously.
The time is now. Join us now in saying, It’s time to act on climate.
Before You Go
At Climate Reality, we work hard to create high-quality educational content like blogs, e-books, videos, and more to empower people all over the world to fight for climate solutions and stand together to drive the change we need. We are a nonprofit organization that believes there is hope in unity, and that together, we can build a safe, sustainable future.
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