What does Joe Biden’s win mean for the Environment?

Ria Choudhary

23rd November 2020

America has hope for better a better environment (Source: Associated press)

The United States of America, arguably the superpower of the world, just elected a new president and had one of the most historic presidential elections in terms of the voters' participation (even with Covid-19 Situation) and the fact that Donald Trump refused to believe the results.

During Donald Trump's presidency, he discontinued several environment-related treaties and pacts and in general, totally disregarded the environment. With that said, Joe Biden's win is not just a win for the Democrats but also for the environment.

4 November 2020, was a ground-breaking date, and not just because it was the day after the presidential winner was called. 4 November also happens to denote the date for the proper withdrawal of the US from the Paris climate arrangement – a year after Donald Trump sent a formal notice to the United Nations with his choice to leave and over three years after the June 2017 press conference session where he "vowed to exit the agreement."

The Paris Agreement was made to cut carbon emissions which is the main culprit in rising global temperatures within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Representatives from 197 nations negotiated the terms of this agreement. When Trump announced his decision to leave the agreement, there was international tension since America is one of the most influencing fighters in the battle against environmental change and everyone feared that it would start becoming a role model for the other countries to also not do their part in decreasing carbon discharge.

Biden's win reassured people that this might not happen since even before his win he had stated that: "In exactly 77 days, the Biden Administration will re-join the Paris Agreement." The head of the US Natural Resources Defence Council, Gina McCarthy, said that "it will be time for the White House to finally get back to leading the charge against the central environmental crisis of our time".

Atmosphere activity has been one of the central issues of Biden's mission. His objective is to dispatch the boldest environmental change plan in history known as the 'Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice'. Among his principal objectives are: to build a versatile America, for the US to accomplish net-zero emanations by 2050, lead the worldwide battle against environmental change, make organisations and polluters responsible for the harm that they cause to our current circumstance and to make sure no labourers and networks are left behind as they execute on this plan.

Biden said that his administration would allot near $2 trillion in government interest in the following ten years to sanction these measures as he intends to upgrade the US framework to ensure that water, transportation, energy, and structures will have the option to withstand the impacts of environmental change.

Biden's agenda for the campaign would undoubtedly face obstacles. While Democrats are likely to maintain House power, the Senate is another matter and is to be ruled by the Republicans. Suppose Biden does not get the approval of Congress, as Barack Obama did during his tenure as president. In that case, he will pass executive orders to proceed with his ambitious climate action plan. The concern with this plan, however, is that under the eyes of the Supreme Court, which has become very conservative with Trump-appointed Justice Amy Barrett, who replaced the late Ruth Ginsburg, the proposals will be tough to execute.

According to Reuters, the former US Vice President Al Gore stated that the victory of Joe Biden confirms what has been obvious all along and that the American people have pledged allegiance to the Paris agreement despite Trump's best efforts. Corporations, stakeholders, cities and states have redoubled their efforts to resolve the climate crisis, showing the inevitable road to a sustainable economy. Companies such as Apple, Microsoft, IBM, General Mills took several steps to mitigate their impact on the environment. Apple stopped providing their usual chargers and earphones in their recent packaging for iPhone 12 to reduce electrical wastes. Studies also prove that 80% of the people in the US value and believe in sustainability and reducing environmental impact.

The victory of Joe Biden does not ensure immediate success in combating climate change. Currently, there is a war against time, as well.

Although it may be challenging for the United States, especially given the current political turmoil experienced in the nation during the last four years, the country will still need to think of ways to reconcile common values, tackle its social unrest, cure its hostility and division, and then work with the rest of the world to battle what many would call the battle of a lifetime.

(Sources: The Guardian, Bloomberg, ABC News, BBC News)

Edited by Aditi Anilkumar

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