President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed sweeping executive orders to compel the federal government to plan for and respond to the urgent threat of global warming, setting out his historic vision for how the United States can once again become a world leader in the world. weather.
These measures will stop new leases of fossil fuels on public lands, stimulate the development and conservation of renewable energies, as well as the creation of new government offices and interagency groups to prioritize job creation, cleaning up of pollution and environmental justice.
Since taking office last week, Biden and his cabinet candidates have repeatedly said tackling the climate crisis is one of their top priorities. With these new actions, Biden explains how he plans to achieve it by putting the federal government at the heart of the response.
“The United States and the world are facing a deep climate crisis”, executive order Biden signed, said. “We have a short time to pursue our actions at home and abroad in order to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of this crisis and to seize the opportunity presented by the fight against climate change.”
Biden’s early climate changes are in stark contrast to the actions of former President Donald Trump, which included the immediate removal of climate change from the White House website, the backlash of climate action, and the use of his executive power. to stimulate the development of oil, gas and coal.
Biden’s day one climate actions were a direct response to Trump, including ordering his staff to review more than 100 anti-environmental rules Trump passed and start the process for the country join the Paris climate agreement. But these new actions go far beyond canceling Trump’s actions or even reinstating the climate initiatives first championed by former President Barack Obama.
“Today, it is clear that President Biden hears loud and clear the demands of our generation, understands the power of our movement, and seriously considers using executive power to deliver on his election promises,” said Varshini Prakash, director executive of the Sunrise movement, in a statement. declaration.
As part of a new general decree, Biden orders the Home Office to indefinitely suspend new oil and gas leases on public lands and offshore waters “to the extent possible.” The ordinance does not specifically prohibit new coal leases and leaves fossil fuel leases on tribal lands to their discretion.
Additionally, Biden is leading a review of existing fossil fuel leases and development projects, and called on the Home Office to find ways to boost renewable energy projects, especially offshore wind, on the waters and lands owned by the federal government.
The American Petroleum Institute, an oil and gas trade association, refused the new restrictions. “Restricting the rental and development of natural gas and petroleum on federal lands and waters could threaten US energy security, economic growth, and well-paying jobs in the United States,” API tweeted.
While the order would not affect the majority of the country’s oil and gas drilling and coal mines, which take place on private land, it could still have a major climate impact. The extraction of fossil fuels on public lands between 2005 and 2014 accounted for about 25% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions during that period, according to a United States Geological Survey. report.
A key element of the executive decrees is the creation of new bureaus and committees focused on solving specific climate issues and goals. In addition to officially creating a new office for domestic climate policy at the White House, directed by Gina McCarthyFormer head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Biden on Wednesday created a national climate task force that leads members across agencies and departments “to enable a whole-of-government approach to tackling the climate crisis.” , according to a White House memo.
Biden is also creating a Civilian Climate Corps initiative designed to create new jobs in conservation, an interagency working group on coal and power plant communities, and economic revitalization to undertake projects that reduce pollution from the environment. existing and abandoned fossil fuel infrastructure, as well as a The White House Interagency Council for Environmental Justice and the White House Advisory Council on Environmental Justice to strengthen environmental justice oversight and enforcement.
Few details have been provided on who will spearhead the many new efforts, the amount of funding they will receive, or the time frame to achieve these bold goals.
In most cases, Biden’s actions follow through on his climate campaign promises, such as a pledge to set aside 30% of public land and water for conservation by 2030 and an international summit on climate change. climate during its first 100 days – one will be on Earth Day. , April 22, 2021.
“The past four years have been a nurturing frenzy on our public lands and waters, and this moratorium is the right way to begin our late transition to a more sustainable economy,” said Raúl Grijalva, Democrat of Arizona and president of the Bedroom. Natural Resources Committee. Last year, Grijalva co-sponsored the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act of 2020 which similarly supports the 30% conservation target. He said that now Congress would go ahead with the bill.
“The stakes of climate change simply could not be higher than they are now,” John Kerry, the president’s special climate envoy, said at a press briefing on Wednesday.
“The convening of this summit is essential to ensure that 2021 is the year that makes up for lost time of the past four years,” he added, referring to the next climate meeting. “The world will measure us by what we can do here at home.”
In addition, McCarthy said on Wednesday that the United States plans to release its updated climate commitment to the Paris climate agreement ahead of the April summit.
As part of a separate memorandum on scientific integrity, Biden is re-establishing science advisory committees dissolved under Trump. In addition, it also restarts the Council of Presidential Advisers on Science and Technology.