On Wednesday 20th January 2021 as the world watched the United States of America swear in Joe Biden as their 46th President, a new era of hope descended upon the American people.
Alongside President Joe Biden’s extensive political career, he welcomed Kamala Harris, the first Woman, the first Black American, & the first South Asian American who was sworn in to work alongside him as Vice President of the United States.
Within hours of taking office, Joe Biden had already written & declared numerous executive orders, starting the process of reversing many rules set in place by the former ‘toxic’ administration.
One of the most important reversals, one of the four principals laid out in President Biden’s election campaign promise & one of the most waited for, was the re-signing of the Paris Agreement.
For the past four years the America’s have watched as one by one, the Climate & Environmental mandates put in place by former American President Barrack Obama & former Presidents; were unceremoniously undone by the Trump administration. During Donald J Trump’s election campaign, he openly denounced the Obama administration’s climate policies & championed the U.S. fossil fuels industry. (1)
Once in office, the then President Trump, set to work undoing years of climate & environmental progress made under former presidents.
Within the first six months of the Trump administration, amongst dozens of reversed rules & executive orders; President Trump had withdrawn from the Paris Agreement, reversed the ruling on the limits for dumping of waste from surface-mining operations & signed an executive order to open up oil & gas drilling in the Atlantic & Arctic oceans, while Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed a secretarial order to revisit drilling plans in two reserves in Alaska. (3)
One of the most sweeping climate & environment moves made by the Trump Administration, was the ruling to allow individual states to set their own limits on carbon emissions.
On June 19, 2019 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its plan to relax limits on greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants, eviscerating one of former president Barack Obama’s flagship climate policies (4)
The EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy rule focused on the use of energy-efficiency technologies at individual power plants rather than requiring the use of more aggressive greenhouse-gas reduction methods such as capturing & storing carbon emissions. (4)
Former President Barrack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, introduced in 2015, would have set broad goals for each state & required them to work with utility companies to collectively reduce emissions to 32% below 2005 levels by 2030. (4)
The sweeping policies by the Trump administration & flagrant disregard for the global climate effort encouraged by the signing of the Paris Agreement; left climate scientists & environmentalists exasperated & dismayed.
Therefore, it was encouraging that under new President Joe Biden’s administration & within 24 hours of taking office; the new President of the United States set to work revoking one after another of the damaging rules set in place by the Trump administration.
President Biden revoked the Trump administration’s permit for TC Energy Corp.’s controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would have carried crude from the Alberta oil fields to Gulf of Mexico refineries. (5)
President Biden also set for review Donald Trump’s EPA eleventh-hour effort to make future greenhouse gas regulations contingent on a sector contributing at least 3% of overall U.S. emissions (Climatewire, Jan. 13). (5) & the 2019 rule repealing & replacing Obama’s flagship Clean Power Plan for existing power plants. (5)
The President Biden EPA plans to revoke the Trump-era rule & replace it with an update which can help achieve the new president’s goal of making the U.S. power grid carbon neutral by 2035. (5)
In addition, (this list is not exhaustive) the new President also set to re-establish an Obama-era interagency process which developed & maintained the social cost of carbon & methane.
The Biden memo announced the upcoming release of “an interim social cost of greenhouse gas schedule to ensure that agencies account for the full costs of greenhouse gas emissions, including climate risk, environmental justice and intergenerational equity.” (5)
To ensure his Climate & Environmental policies are implemented by a team of seasoned professionals, President Joe Biden has assembled a notable team of specialists, of which most have already worked alongside former President Obama in similar roles. Here are some of the key team members who have been tasked with tackling Climate Change for the America’s.
John Kerry, special envoy on climate change. The 77-year-old former Democratic presidential nominee and secretary of state under Barack Obama returns to the federal government.
In creating the role of climate change envoy with a seat on the National Security Council, Mr Biden has indicated that he will give Mr Kerry wide latitude in helping steer his ambitious climate agenda using his foreign diplomacy experience. (6)
Gina McCarthy, national climate adviser. The straight-talking Boston native was the Environmental Protection Agency administrator under Barack Obama. Ms McCarthy, 66, will head the newly created White House Office of Climate Policy. (6)
Jennifer Granholm, department of energy. The 61-year-old former Democratic governor of Michigan and fixture on cable news has been an advocate for renewable energy since leaving the governor’s office in 2011.
Ms Granholm forged a close relationship with the Obama administration and oversaw the rustbelt state’s recovery from the recession and the motor industry bailout in 2009. (6)
Ali Zaidi, deputy national climate adviser. In his early 30s, Mr Zaidi, comes to the role as Ms McCarthy’s offsider from New York state where he has been serving as Governor Andrew Cuomo’s chairman of climate policy and finance.
He previously served in two terms of the Obama administration: in the department of energy, the White House and the office of management and budget working in a variety of climate-related roles, and worked on issues involving energy, agriculture, infrastructure, conservation and technology. (6)
David Hayes, special assistant to the president for climate policy. Mr Hayes, 67, comes to the Biden White House with a background in both the Obama and Clinton administrations, as deputy secretary at the Department of the Interior.
In his time in Mr Obama’s administration, Mr Hayes focused on the interior department’s renewable energy development plans, particularly the impact of climate change in the Arctic. (6)
Brenda Mallory, White House Council on Environmental Quality. An environmental lawyer, Ms Mallory, 64, served as general counsel at the CEQ, which is a division of the office of the President and coordinates federal environmental efforts for major infrastructure projects, including pipelines and highways.
Under Barack Obama, she focused her efforts on policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions and pollution as well as protecting public lands and monuments. (6)
President Joe Biden is under no illusion that he has inherited a nation which has lost sight of the needs of the climate & environment.
Having had four years of u-turns & back tracking on policies & rules to protect planet Earth, the new Biden Administration is wasting no time in getting the needs of the Paris Agreement back on track & providing a better future for all.
In the words of the new President of America, Joe Biden & from his inauguration speech as he took office as the 46th President of the United States of America:
“Few periods in our nation’s history have been more challenging or difficult than the one we’re in now.
A cry for survival comes from the planet itself. A cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear.
So here is my message to those beyond our borders: America has been tested and we have come out stronger for it. We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again.” (7)
Written & cited by Katy-Jane Mason for & on behalf of Dolphin N2
- https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/trump-rolling-back-obama-rules/ March 24, 2017 (updated Jan 20, 2018)
- https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-is-finding-it-easier-to-tear-down-old-policies-than-to-build-his-own/2017/06/04/3d0bcdb2-47c5-11e7-a196-a1bb629f64cb_story.html?utm_term=.fefcb7e96765 June 4, 2017
- https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01944-7 June 19, 2019
- https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/here-are-all-the-climate-actions-biden-took-on-day-one/ Jan 21, 2021
- https://www.ft.com/content/a50588fb-ce03-4839-b8e5-7d8296dd8131 Jan 25, 2021
- https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2021/01/20/inaugural-address-by-president-joseph-r-biden-jr/ Jan 20, 2021