President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris ran and won on the most ambitious climate platform in American history. Since taking office, the administration reversed bad policy and took action to put us back on track to meeting our climate goals — so many actions that it’s hard to keep up!
So… what did Biden do for climate? Let’s break it down.
On his very first day in office, President Biden:
- Re-joined the Paris climate agreement;
- Halted the Keystone XL pipeline;
- Paused oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; and,
- Directed federal agencies to review all new and proposed regulations that passed in the final days of the last administration, including federal fuel economy standards for cars and trucks.
These actions are a big deal — and it’s just the first step. They are statements of values, backed up by policy, and show that when it comes to climate action the United States is a player on the world stage once again.
One week into office, President Biden took further action on what his administration called “climate day” — the biggest day for climate action in a decade. What did President Biden do on Climate Day?
According to the White House, the Biden-Harris administration took action to:
1. Secure environmental justice and spur economic opportunity
Our country cannot lead on climate action without centering environmental justice. President Biden signed orders to bring an environmental justice focus to every federal agency, create new bodies dedicated to advancing environmental justice, an initiative to deliver 40 percent of benefits of federal climate investments to communities on the front lines of the crisis, and development of a new tool to support that initiative and equitable decision making across the federal government.
2. Advance conservation, agriculture, and reforestation by making 30×30 a national goal
Preserving our land and water are critical to climate action. That’s why President Biden signed orders committing to the 30×30 goal of conserving 30 percent of U.S. land and water by 2030 and kicking off a process to help meet the goal. He also called for the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative that will conserve and restore public lands and waters while tackling climate change and ordered the Secretary of Agriculture to begin collecting input from farmers and ranchers about the best way to use federal programs to reduce carbon and increase jobs in rural America.
3. Leverage the federal government’s footprint and buying power to lead by example
Building back better means rethinking American jobs and realizing the benefits of clean energy in our economic recovery. President Biden signed orders directing the Secretary of the Interior to pause all new oil and gas leases on public lands — a big win for Colorado’s lands and climate — and directing federal agencies to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies as they are allowed by law while increasing new clean energy infrastructure. Other orders President Biden signed require federal agencies to buy American-made, zero-emission vehicles and increase federal climate resiliency.
4. Take a whole-of-government approach to combating climate change
No single part of the federal government can solve climate change alone, which is why President Biden established the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy and the National Climate Task Force, which includes leaders from across 21 federal agencies and departments.
5. Center the climate crisis in U.S. foreign policy and national security considerations
Over the past four years, the United States has lost time and moral authority when it comes to addressing climate change. On “climate day,” President Biden signed orders clearly establishing climate as “an essential element of U.S. foreign policy and national security.” He also ordered next steps and necessary research that must be completed to understand our country’s role in driving worldwide climate change and to re-join the Paris Agreement.
6. Rebuild our infrastructure for a sustainable economy
A clean energy future requires clean energy infrastructure. This order speeds up clean energy and transmission projects with an eye toward creating jobs in construction, manufacturing, engineering, and skilled trades.
7. Revitalize energy communities
President Biden created an Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization and tasked it with coordinating investments and efforts to help coal, oil and gas, and power plant communities while protecting public health and safety.
We need President Biden to implement his bold climate plan in the White House and support states innovating to reduce pollution and tackling climate change. His early actions are important steps toward getting our country back on track while creating space for Colorado’s continued leadership!