The move is expected to shift the world’s path along as observed by several observers, given the US is the world’s largest economy and the world’s second largest CO2 emitter with the emissions accounting for 15% of the global emissions
The new Biden-Harris Presidential Transition twitter account has addressed such the priority following the President-elect’s victory speech on Saturday night. It said that the administration would since Day One lead the office and take on the four most urgent challenges; protecting and preserving the nation’s health, renewing the opportunity to succeed, advancing racial equity, and fighting climate crisis.
During the speech, the President-elect had addressed climate change too as one of his top priorities as the president. It’s projected that his plan to address the issue would be “the boldest climate change plan of any president in history”, according to the Washington Post.
“Americans must marshal the “forces of science” in the “battle to save our planet,” the President-elect was quoted as saying by the paper.
The plan, as detailed on his campaign website, joebiden.com, will cover a number of ambitious plans both at home and abroad. Among the most hopeful ones is the US plan to get back to the Paris Agreement, under which nations are expected to table their ambitions to help cut Greenhouse Gases (GHG) emissions, to the net-zero by 2050 if possible, to keep the world’s temperature below 1.5-2 Celsius to avoid catastrophe.
US President Donald Trump had pulled the US out from the agreement, which just took effect the day after the election, November 4.
Under the so-called Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice plan, a number of ambitious plans both at home and abroad are lined up. At home, the President-elect would push for a 100% “clean energy economy and the net-zero emissions no later than 2050, the same deadline set under the Paris Agreement.
A number of executive orders are expected to be signed by the President Day One on to materialize the plan, along with the push for some new enforcement, an uphill task awaiting in the Congress. The new investments worth $ 1.7 trillion over the next ten years to drive economy powered by clean energy, from infrastructure and buildings to transportation, are also set aside, with at least $ 400 billion set for related research and innovation.
Decarbonisation as well as disincentives for fossil industry are also targeted.
The US re-entering of the Paris Agreement
In abroad, the joebiden website has noted that the US will rejoin the Paris Agreement. Besides, the US will also use its foreign policy to “push the rest of the world to raise their ambitions alongside the United States”.
So, on Day One, the Biden Administration will re-enter the agreement while leading a major diplomatic push to raise the ambitions of countries’ climate targets, according to the website.
“This means that re-entering Paris on day one of the Biden Administration is only the first step of an important and sustained effort to dramatically increase global climate ambition. Biden was there alongside President Obama to rally the world to get to Paris; and he will be prepared on day one of his presidency to take it to the next level,” noted the website.
The administration also plans to hold the world summit to engage leaders of the major carbon emitting nations in order to persuade them to join the US in making more ambitious national pledges, and work out on related international agreements to achieve the goal.
In the focus would be related trade policy to ensure that the aimed commitments would not be cheated among the countries. China is particularly of the focus.
“Biden will not allow other nations, including China, to game the system by becoming destination economies for polluters, undermining our climate efforts and exploiting American workers and businesses,” said the website, while additionally addressing China’s ambitious scheme of Belt and Road Initiative, claimed to be driven by dirty fossil fuel industry and financing, with the plans to work with China and other countries concerned to try to move towards low carbon investments and projects.
“Carbon adjustment fees” or quotas on carbon intensive goods from countries that are failing to meet their climate and environmental obligations are expected to be imposed, alongside conditions for future trade agreements.
Last but not least is the demand set for a worldwide ban on fossil fuel subsidies, while promoting “American clean energy exports and investments” and partnerships through a Clean Energy Export and Climate Investment Initiative.
“This is also a moment of opportunity for American innovation. We can be the world’s clean energy superpower,” said the website.
Funds for climate-friendly development as well as research for developing countries would also be worked out alongside through the Green Climate Fund and some others.
What it means by the US climate re-engagement
The analysis made by the Guardian projected that the Biden administration could reduce global temperature by about 0.1 Celsius, if its plans are fulfilled. That means it would help bring the goals of the Paris Agreement “within striking distance”, the paper pointed.
The new policy and plans addressed would help reduce US emissions in the next 30 years by about 75 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide or its equivalents. Calculated by the Climate Action Tracker, this reduction would be enough to avoid a temperature rise of about 0.1 C by 2100, the paper reported.
China, with the recent pledge to reach the net zero emissions by 2060, would help cut the world’s projected temperature rise by 0.2 C to 0.3 C, the paper quoted the CAT’s calculation.
Combined together, their pledges would be enough to reduce global temperature to about 2.3 C or 2.4 C by the end of the century. That is about 25-40% of the effort needed to limit the heating to 1.5 C, which is aspired under the PA.
“It is the US driving the world in this direction that will be most important,” the Guardian quoted Todd Stern, who served as the US special envoy for climate change under Obama what it meant about the US renewed climate efforts. “If you have got the US, the EU, China working together you can expand to the whole world. It is not just about the US’s domestic emissions, but the US position as a world leader,” Stern told the paper.
Some other observers also viewed that the US renewed efforts would also catalyse international action in an intermediate term of 2030.
Carlos Fuller, the lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States just said to the BBC: “It would definitely be a positive move, not only because they are a big player, but I think because it really emphasizes the fact that the US believes in the science of climate change.”
The next UN climate talks is due to take place in Glasgow in 2021, when countries are expected to level up their ambitions higher than those pledged in 2015 at the birth of the Paris Agreement, and especially the net-zero emissions pledges by 2050.
Getting to know Joe Biden (Source: joebiden.com)
Dubbed by popular political fact-checkers as “a climate change pioneer”, Joe Biden is said to have long appreciated the enormity of climate change and always believed that people have a moral and economic imperative to address it.
In 1986, he introduced one of the first-ever climate bills in Congress. Politifact, the Poynter Institute’s fact checking initiative, recently called him a “climate change pioneer” and dubbed his early leadership “a watershed moment.”
As Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, he organized several hearings on climate change and rallied support on a number of nonbinding resolutions on the issue in an attempt to build momentum for action to address global climate change.
In 1998, he was a key champion for the Tropical Forest Conservation Act, which allowed the U.S. to reach agreements with foreign governments to conserve tropical forests in exchange for debt relief (commonly referred to as debt-for-nature swaps).
As Vice President, he oversaw the Recovery Act, the largest single investment in clean energy in U.S. history.
The Obama-Biden Administration placed historic limits on carbon pollution, doubled fuel economy standards for cars and trucks, unleashed the potential of renewable, clean energy, and rallied the world to achieve the groundbreaking Paris Climate Accords.