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What Will Biden’s Presidency Mean for Federal Climate Action?

Since President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory was announced on November 9th, there has been an outpour of support and criticism. Democrats, in-general, seem relieved about President Trump’s earlier-than-planned exodus from the White House. However, some progressive figures in the party, such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have expressed concerns that Biden’s “moderate” policy, may not be enough to fight off pressing issues like climate change. This article will breakdown each aspect of Biden’s climate policy and explain the specifics of his planned actions.

On day one of his term as President, Biden has made a multitude of promises. According to his campaign website he will invest in smart infrastructure investments “to ensure that our buildings, water, transportation, and energy infrastructure can withstand the impacts of climate change.” This initial investment seems to be a reactive measure to the threat of climate change. His plan for infrastructure is clearly defined, such as where this infrastructure will be built and how it addresses the threat of climate change that region specifically faces. Moreover, he is supporting research with universities nationally and locally to develop more resilient infrastructure.

His first-day domestic policy also expands beyond reactive measures. Proactively, the President-Elect is promising “a series of new executive orders with unprecedented reach that go well beyond the Obama-Biden Administration platform and put us on the right track.” These executive orders have been clearly defined by the administration. He hopes that during his presidency he will force Congress to pass policy making massive investments in clean energy growth and development. He plans to invest in zero-emission public transit immediately and on-site clean energy production for government (and other) buildings, to limit reliance on fossil fuels. Biden says these changes will additionally “reduce pollution, help connect workers to quality jobs with shorter commutes, and spur investment in communities more efficiently connected to major metropolitan areas”.

With a Democratic-House, garnering new policies to the Senate floor should be easy for the Biden administration, but once they arrive at the Senate his challenge surfaces. Republicans have been projected to win 49 seats in the Senate as of now, with Democrats and independents holding a combined 48 seats. This likely means the two concurrent Senate races in Georgia will play a crucial role in deciding whether Biden is actually able to push out these policies. If Republicans lost both of those seats the Senate would be blue since Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris would break ties. However, if Republicans win just one of the seats in the January Georgia runoffs, they would hold control over the Senate and stand as a massive burden to Biden’s climate policy plans.

While the President-Elect can’t fully control his political adversaries in Congress, he does have unilateral authority on treaties and international agreements. Biden has stated he will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and place climate action at the front of foreign policy. He hopes that America can pressure adversaries into enacting policy through forums like the G-20 and enter international agreements with allies to resolve this issue. He is also seeking reform in the IMF to address the economic prioritization of policies and focus more on global progress in climate policy.

As a whole, Biden’s policies are plentiful and well-explained, but with political adversaries potentially holding the Senate he could undoubtedly face challenges when implementing his policy. His climate action is the most clearly defined of any presidential candidate ever, but the massive leaps he plans could run amok if he can’t gather support from both sides of the aisle.


Dalton Longstreth is a high school senior at Western High School in Davie, FL.

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