The Biden administration gives an additional boost to global climate actions worldwide. On his first day of office, President Biden signed 17 executive actions, two of them having significant implications on climate change.
The first one is aimed at the US rejoining the Paris Agreement, which means America will produce a plan to reduce its emission. The second one is to end the Keystone XL pipeline construction. Both actions gained the praise of climate advocates and presented a symbolic significance to the world.
By rejoining the Paris climate agreement, America will improve its previous commitment to the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions. President Biden will commit to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 and will be reflected on their economy and society for decades to come.
By halting the keystone pipeline and rejoining the Paris Accord President Biden is overturning his predecessor’s policy on climate change. The former president’s stand on climate change is not very clear and sometimes confusing. If anything, he took pride in the US energy-independence where the country become energy independent in 2019 for the first time since 1957. An enormous contribution from this came from hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling to free-up natural gas and oil (IER, 2020).
The planned Keystone pipeline will extend to 1790 miles or 1897 km to carry 830 thousand barrels of oil daily from Alberta, Canada to Nebraska. The Obama administration blocked the development in 2015 but President Trump overturned it and allowed the project to go ahead for the following reasons – reduced dependency on Middle Eastern supplies and increased oil availability through the pipeline will mean lower prices for consumers.
Environmental advocates have long been protesting this project because of the ecological and health risks such as leaks and spillage. Developing Alberta’s oil sands will not curb the use of fossil fuel and its emissions contributing to climate change. Both Environment Canada and the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) saw these environmental implications and advised against this project.
Since Obama’s administration and its opposition on the pipeline, the world has changed so much and climate issues will play a role in economics, security, and even politics. Governments are pushing for clean and renewable energy sources and breaking off from fossil fuels.
Prof Michael Gerrard of the Columbia University Sabin Center for Climate Change Laws came up with top-three suggestions for the Biden administration on how they should meet their Paris Agreement targets, which are essentially restoring the Obama policies to boost climate actions:
- Strengthening the missions and fuel economy standards, recognizing that motor vehicles are the largest source of GHG.
- Controlling methane gas leakage during the production, transport, and processing of natural gas.
- Re-establish the Clean Power Plan or something similar that Obama created to reduce coal-fired power plant emissions which Trump revoked and replace with the Affordable Clean Energy Rule.
Making climate change a priority, and tackling the root causes of rising temperatures can mitigate other problems. Climate solutions can boost the economy and create jobs.
Among the list of things to do for the present administration is to increase the use and manufacturing of electric vehicles, build more charging infrastructure, constructing high-speed railways, and improving energy efficiency in homes and offices.
McGrath, M. (2021, January 20). Climate change: Biden’s first act sets tone for ambitious approach. BBC News. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-55732386
The United States Was Energy Independent in 2019 for the First Time Since 1957. (2020, May 11). IER. Retrieved from https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/fossil-fuels/gas-and-oil/the-united-states-was-energy-independent-in-2019-for-the-first-time-since-1957/
Keystone XL pipeline: Why is it so disputed? (2021, January 21). BBC News. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-30103078