Biden sets out climate action plan

28 January 2021

US President Joe Biden yesterday signed executive orders to follow through on his promise to take aggressive action to tackle climate change and build on the executive actions that he took on his first day in office, including re-joining the Paris Agreement and the immediate review of "harmful rollbacks" of environmental standards under his predecessor Donald Trump. Meanwhile, a UN survey has found that almost two-thirds of people around the world now view climate change as a global emergency.

'The United States and the world face a profound climate crisis,' US President Joe Biden said yesterday (Image: the White House)

The White House said: "President Biden set ambitious goals that will ensure America and the world can meet the urgent demands of the climate crisis, while empowering American workers and businesses to lead a clean energy revolution that achieves a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and puts the United States on an irreversible path to a net-zero economy by 2050."

It added: "[These] actions advance those goals and ensure that we are tapping into the talent, grit, and innovation of American workers, revitalising the US energy sector, conserving our natural resources and leveraging them to help drive our nation toward a clean energy future, creating well-paying jobs with the opportunity to join a union, and delivering justice for communities who have been subjected to environmental harm."

"The United States and the world face a profound climate crisis," Biden said. "We have a narrow moment to pursue action at home and abroad in order to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of that crisis and to seize the opportunity that tackling climate change presents. Domestic action must go hand in hand with United States international leadership, aimed at significantly enhancing global action. Together, we must listen to science and meet the moment."

In signing the executive order, Biden has directed his administration to: centre the climate crisis in US foreign policy and national security considerations; take a whole-of-government approach to the climate crisis; leverage the federal government’s footprint and buying power to lead by example; rebuild US infrastructure for a sustainable economy; advance conservation, agriculture, and reforestation; revitalise energy communities; and, secure environmental justice and spur economic opportunity.

The order reaffirms that: the President will host a Leaders’ Climate Summit on Earth Day, on 22 April; that the USA will reconvene the Major Economies Forum; that, to underscore the administration’s commitment to elevating climate in US foreign policy, the President has created a new position - the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate - which will have a seat on the National Security Council; and that it will be a US priority to press for enhanced climate ambition and integration of climate considerations across a wide range of international fora.

UN survey

Almost two-thirds of people around the world now view climate change as a global emergency, according to the biggest opinion poll yet conducted on tackling global warming. More than a million people in 50 countries took part in the survey, with almost half the participants aged between 14 and 18. The poll, called the People's Climate Vote, was organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in conjunction with Oxford University.

“The survey brings the voice of the people to the forefront of the climate debate. It signals ways in which countries can move forward with public support as we work together to tackle this enormous challenge.” said UNDEP Administrator Achim Steiner.

The organisers distributed poll questions through adverts in mobile gaming apps across 50 countries, between October and December last year. With 1.2 million respondents, the survey used a new and unconventional approach to polling, with the results spanning 50 countries covering 56% of the world's population.

The aim of the Peoples' Climate Vote is to "connect the public to policymakers" and to provide the latter with reliable information on whether people considered climate change an emergency, and how they would like their countries to respond, UNDP said. For some countries, this is the first time they have access to systematically gathered and analysed information on public opinion on climate change and policy solutions. Even for countries that have an understanding of overall public sentiment on climate change, it is often the first time that detailed questions have been asked about policy solutions on this scale, it said.

Even though the survey was conducted during the COVID-19 crisis, there was still widespread recognition of climate change as a global emergency in every country surveyed. Over all 50 countries, 64% of people said that climate change was an emergency - presenting a clear and convincing call for decision-makers to step up on ambition.

The results were collated and processed by analysts at the University of Oxford, which weighted the data to create representative estimates of public opinion.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News