By Anika Pruthi
President Biden plans to reach net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2050 and make a large public investment toward clean energy, according to a release from the Biden-Harris platform.
To achieve these goals, Biden recognizes the use of the Federal procurement system to pave the way for more electric vehicles on the road, and the investment in the Clean Energy Revolution to create American jobs and end subsidies for fossil fuels. By mobilizing his entire administration to tackle climate change, there is hope that comprehensive efforts will be sufficient to maintain and fulfill the climate commitments and targets that were made.
While this two trillion dollar climate plan may be feasible, a lot of Biden’s investments into a clean energy future and environmental justice involve reversing the Trump administration’s decisions in climate change.
For instance, Trump had withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris Agreement with the interest of boosting the American industry and making sure, “…other leaders and other countries [won’t be] laughing at us anymore,” according to The National Geographic. As one of his first acts in the Oval Office, Biden signed an executive order to have the U.S. rejoin the Paris climate agreement to join and raise the countries’ ambition to reach climate targets that would reduce global warming. The Paris climate agreement is a global commitment to cut climate pollution and have a transparent means of monitoring and reporting each country’s individual and collective climate goals. Trump believed that there was a risk of brownouts and blackouts, from reducing dependence on fossil fuels to keep up with the demand of electricity, and a loss of 2.7 million jobs by 2025 from the compliance with Paris accord, according to Business Insider. By rejoining the greater climate action in the agreement, the Biden administration restores the country’s credibility and accountability in working towards climate change.
NPR reported that Biden has also revoked the cross-border permit for the Keystone XL pipeline project, which would have carried crude oil sands from Alberta, Canada to the American Gulf Coast. This was a project rejected by President Obama and revived by President Trump within days of taking office. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the EPA has found that tar sands oil that would have tripled in production by 2030 with Keystone XL would have burdened the planet, “with an extra 178.3 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, the same impact as 38.5 million passenger vehicles or 45.8 coal-fired power plants.” This decision of Biden’s has set the stage for committing to a future powered by clean energy.
According to the latest EPA report regarding the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and sinks, transportation activities are the largest source of emissions. They have accounted for 28% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2018 and have continued to increase. While the pandemic reduced global greenhouse gases by roughly 2.4 billion tons, researchers believe carbon emissions will rebound if action is not taken, according to CNBC.
The Biden administration is drafting new national auto pollution standards where passenger vehicles would average 51 miles per gallon of gasoline by 2026, according to The New York Times. They are also committed to electrifying fleets by working with autoworkers to replace the internal combustion engine with zero-emission electric vehicles and governors and mayors to support the deployment of enough public charging outlets, according to CNN. Hoping to also restore the full electric vehicle tax credit to incentivize purchases of electric vehicles, the Biden administration is determined to ensure emissions are not loosened as they were in the Trump administration.
As the Biden administration continues to deal with the climate policy rollbacks made by the Trump administration and lay the groundwork for emission, methane and low-carbon steel and cement standards, youth-led climate organizations intend to hold the new administration accountable for delivering on climate change promises.