By: Artisha Naidu
On November 7th, 2020, a new president was elected, and the future of the environment is looking healthier. The Biden-Harris ticket won the 2020 United States presidential election, making Joe Biden the 46th president-elect and Kamala Harris the first female and person of Asian or African decent to be elected vice president. The change in administration is not only a huge for win history, but also for the planet. While some changes, such as new leadership for the EPA and rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, are conventional, others are revolutionary. President-elect Biden’s plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice details a dramatic shift towards a clean energy revolution. The plan proposes a clean energy federal investment of $1.7 trillion and additional of at least $5 trillion over the next ten years. The key components of the plan are as follows:
Ensure the U.S. achieves a 100% clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions by 2050;
Build a stronger, more resilient nation by investing in smart infrastructure;
Build and maintain global partnerships to combat climate change;
Rectify harm caused by disproportionate pollution towards minority and low-income communities; and
Create green union jobs for all, especially for workers and communities who powered the industrial revolution and subsequent decades of economic growth.
Read the full plan here. The following subsections detail some, but not all, key points of the above components.
Achieve a 100% Clean Energy Economy and Reach Net-Zero Emissions by 2050
The Biden Administration’s primary goal is to achieve a 100% clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions by 2050. While progressive clean energy legislation is expected to pass in the House, passage through the Senate remains difficult. Therefore, Biden plans to sign a series of executive orders to push the green agenda forward while simultaneously pushing for stronger legal protections. Some of his strongest clean energy legislation includes:
Setting methane pollution limits for oil and gas operations;
Implementing aggressive appliance- and building-efficiency standards;
Protecting biodiversity by conserving 30% of the nation’s lands and waters by 2030;
Researching nuclear energy; and
Empowering local communities to develop transportation solutions.
Build a Stronger, More Resilient Nation
Citing the rise in natural disasters, the Biden Administration believes stronger infrastructure is vital to mitigating climate change’s impacts. Biden proposes strengthening relationships with state and local leaders to build resilient infrastructure while creating well-paying union jobs. In addition to increasing financial investments, he will:
Reform common-sense zoning and building codes;
Ensure that the nation creates the cleanest, safest, and fastest freight and passenger rail system in the world; and
Lower property insurance premiums for those who invest in resilient infrastructure.
Build and Maintain Global Partnerships to Combat Climate Change
Biden will rejoin the Paris Climate Accord on his first day in office to strengthen global partnerships. The administration emphasizes the need to collaborate globally to effectively combat climate change. He will further global partnerships by achieving the following:
Organize a climate world summit within his first 100 days in office to persuade leaders of major carbon-emitting nations to further their commitment towards combatting climate change;
Embrace the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol;
Make future bilateral U.S.-China agreements on carbon mitigation;
Demand a worldwide ban on fossil fuel subsidies; and
Provide “green debt relief” for developing nations that commit towards combatting climate change.
Rectify Harm Caused by Disproportionate Pollution Towards Minority and Low-Income Communities
People of color and low-income people are disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change. President-elect Biden will address the inequities headfirst. In addition to reinstating federal protections designed to protect communities, he will:
Direct the EPA and Justice Department to pursue criminal anti-pollution cases to the fullest extent of the law and seek additional legislation if needed;
Ensure safe drinking water for all, including Flint, MI; and
Prioritize marginalized community members for green union jobs.
Create Green Union Jobs
Biden will launch a national effort to create the jobs while building sustainable infrastructure for an equitable clean energy future. Beyond creating union jobs already detailed in Biden’s Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice plan, the incoming administration projects to add additional union jobs in the Biden Plan To Build A Modern, Sustainable Infrastructure And An Equitable Clean Energy Future. Biden will ensure that jobs are equitably distributed across rural and urban communities for people of all backgrounds. He will also prioritize providing jobs for workers impacted by the energy transition, like coal miners and power plant workers. He details specific ways he will create well-paying green union jobs below:
Infrastructure- By rebuilding crumbling infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, green spaces, water systems, electricity grids and universal broadband.
Auto- Creating about 1 million jobs in the auto industry, domestic auto supply chains, and auto infrastructure, by advancing electric vehicle production.
Transit: Providing every city with 100,000 or more residents with zero-emissions public transportation options that will lead to jobs with labor protections.
Power Sector: Creating American-made electricity to achieve a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035.
Buildings: Upgrade 4 million buildings and weatherize 2 million homes over 4 years, which will create at least 1 million jobs with a choice to join a union.
Innovation: Drive innovation and commercialization of battery storage, negative emissions technologies, the next generation of building materials, renewable hydrogen, and advanced nuclear in the United States.
Agriculture and Conservation: Create jobs in climate-smart agriculture, resilience, and conservation. At least 250,000 of these jobs will be to plug abandoned oil and natural gas wells and reclaim abandoned materials.
Artisha Naidu is a Government and Public Sector Consultant with Deloitte LLC. She is from California and has an extensive background in energy, environmental sustainability, and urban policy. Artisha is launching the Girls’ Leadership Apprenticeship and Mentorship (GLAM) Program, which provides workforce development to high school girls in D.C. She also tutors and mentors youth from marginalized communities and is a Community Outreach Coordinator for IMPACT Now. She holds a Masters of Public Administration from the George Washington University and a Bachelor’s of Science in Community and Regional Development from UC Davis. In her spare time, Artisha loves to travel, hike, read, and laugh.