Can President Biden Deliver Effective Climate Leadership?
by Charlie Jiang
April 28, 2021
In his first 100 Days in office, has President Biden met the bar for real climate leadership? We assessed President Biden’s progress toward taking the actions we need to phase out fossil fuels and advance a Green New Deal.
Friday, April 30, marks Joe Biden’s 100th day as U.S. president. What has he accomplished so far as president to tackle the climate crisis, end fossil fuel racism, and advance a Green New Deal? What does he still need to do?
It’s clear that President Biden has already taken bolder steps to tackle the climate crisis than any president in history. Still, he must do so much more. To evaluate President Biden’s climate leadership, we took our #Climate2020 Scorecard and assessed the Biden-Harris Administration’s progress on turning Joe Biden’s campaign commitments into action — by phasing out fossil fuels and winning a Green New Deal.
In his first 100 Days, President Biden has:
- Stopped the Keystone XL Pipeline;
- Paused oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters;
- Launched the Justice40 initiative to identify environmental justice (EJ) communities and ensure at least 40% of the benefits of climate and clean energy investments go to them;
- Created a White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council to elevate EJ leadership to the highest levels;
- Endorsed the PRO Act and other policies to strengthen workers’ rights;
- Rejoined the Paris Agreement and made a new commitment to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030;
- Appointed Cabinet officials free from fossil fuel influence (although some members of his administration still have financial and career ties to fossil fuel companies);
- Issued a sweeping Climate Executive Order to launch a whole-of-government approach to tackling the climate crisis; and
- Proposed a $1.9 trillion American Jobs Plan to create millions of good, union jobs reducing emissions and deploying clean energy and infrastructure;
- …and more.
The bar for action is not set by what pundits deem possible or by the accomplishments of past administrations — it’s set by science and justice. Science demands we rapidly phase out fossil fuel extraction and transition to 100 percent renewable energy. Justice demands we invest in the communities who have borne the brunt of pollution and the workers who depend on the fossil fuel economy.
Biden still has time to become the climate leader that our communities need and deserve. He must use every tool at his disposal to strengthen and pass the historic legislation he has proposed, such as the American Jobs Plan, and use his executive authority to hold fossil fuel corporations accountable. Phasing out fossil fuels and winning a Green New Deal represents President Biden’s best chance to advance climate, racial, and economic justice at the same time.
Looking ahead, President Biden must:
- Eliminate oil, gas, and coal subsidies;
- Endorse and pass the THRIVE Act, which would invest $10 trillion over the next decade to create more than 15 million good jobs, cut climate pollution in half, and confront historical injustices;
- Strengthen and enact his American Jobs Plan to mobilize trillions in public investment to deploy renewable energy and build clean infrastructure;
- Pass the PRO Act to strengthen workers’ rights to organize;
- Create hundreds of thousands of good jobs remediating abandoned oil and gas wells, while holding polluters accountable to pay to clean up their mess;
- Ban oil, gas, and coal exports;
- Stop climate-polluting fossil fuel projects, including the Line 3 Pipeline, Dakota Access Pipeline, and Formosa St. James Plastics Plant;
- Say no to false climate solutions that include carbon capture technologies, biogas, carbon offsets, counter-productive carbon pricing schemes and biofuels;
- …and more.
Keep scrolling to see how we assessed President Biden on his actions to phase out fossil fuels and advance a Green New Deal, or check out the details and metrics behind our assessment of President Biden’s first 100 days.
President Biden’s going to need to work with Congress to become the real climate leader we need him to be. The next step is for Congress to stop using public dollars to prop up fossil fuel racism. Tell your Members of Congress to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.