Never before was a presidential transition in the United States so necessary (not only for one nation) and so far-reaching as the exit of Donald Trump from the White House to leave his place to Joe Biden. As he raced for the White house, the now 46th President of the United States kept in his election program a commitment with the environment and the promise of placing the United States at the forefront of climate action: “Immediately, on my first day, I will join again the Paris Climate Agreement”, he claimed in a promotional video.
Not even 24 hours after he took office, the veteran democrat has put his foot down to undo part of Donald Trump's legacy, which has been very damaging for the environment and for health. The Executive Orders that Joe Biden has signed to reverse the decisions of his predecessor include re-joining the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization, as well as blocking the Keystone XL oil pipeline project. Several international leaders have already celebrated these decisions: “I warmly welcome President Biden's steps to re-enter the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and join the growing coalition of governments, cities, states, businesses and people taking ambitious action to confront the climate crisis," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement. Likewise, the Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans has written in a tweet: "The climate crisis is the defining challenge of our time and it can only be tackled by combining all our forces. We welcome the United States’ return to the Paris Agreement."
Image: NBC News
Joe Biden, who during his election race said if he was elected president he would continue with Obama's environmental policy – when he himself was Vice President – wants to go even further: "We need to dramatically increase our global efforts to address the intensity of this challenge […] Global action needs the leadership of the United States", he said regarding action against global warming. Believing there is no bigger challenge for the world – aside from the pandemic, which he also has as one of his main priorities – Joe Biden believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework to deal with the climate challenges we face, and thus, he intends to lead the world to tackle the climate emergency and lead by example, making the economy of the United States 100% based on clean energy, with zero net emissions, by 2050 at the latest. “Joe Biden is preparing to deal with climate change in a way no U.S. president has done before – by mobilizing his entire administration to take on the challenge from every angle in a strategic, integrated way“, wrote Bill Ritter Jr., former Governor of Colorado, in an opinion for The Conversation.
Biden's ambitious vision can be somewhat truncated by the decisions of the Senate if democrats do not obtain majority in that chamber, as Jody Freeman, Harvard Law Professor and former advisor on environmental matters during Obama's mandate explains in a Twitter thread. And yet there is no doubt that Biden has presented a more drastic climate action plan than any other president of the United States (and I would say of the world), and the question is how much of that plan will he be able to implement.
Something is for sure, nonetheless, climate change is a global challenge that requires decisive action by all countries, and as Biden said during his inauguration speech: "There is nothing we cannot do if we do it together". We have no time to lose.