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What Joe Biden’s election means for the environment

While America’s reputation has taken a hit in the climate change arena due to the Trump administration, the US still remains a global powerhouse. What Joe Biden does (or is allowed to do) to tackle the climate crisis, will have repercussions worldwide. 

The new President-Elect has pledged a highly ambitious climate agenda, and in his Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice he outlines his key goals:

- 100 per cent clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050

- Federal investments of $1.7 trillion over next ten years, leveraging additional private sector, state, and local investments to total more than $5 trillion in clean energy projects

- Rally the rest of the world to meet the threat of climate change

While these pledges are encouraging, the reality of fulfilling these goals depends on whether he controls the senate (the rough equivalent of the UK Houses of Parliament). This hinges upon the vote for two seats for the senate in Georgia on 5 January.

If Biden wins both seats in Georgia, he will control the balance of power in Washington. This would give him a fighting chance of passing these policies through the Senate. If the Republicans win the control, it is highly likely that Biden’s progressive climate policies will be blocked, but even in this case, there is still cause for some optimism.

One of the first environmental headlines to come out of the victory of the new President-Elect was his commitment to re-join the Paris agreement, something welcome by environmentalist and world leaders alike.

The Climate Coalition, an alliance of organisations committed to climate action in the UK, said: “President-Elect Joe Biden recognises that the time is now for climate action. His presidency could accelerate the world towards a cleaner, greener future that works for everyone.”

Ellis Make America Green Again
Ellis: 'Make America Green Again'

Biden has also attracted attention by publishing the contents of his first calls with various world leaders, including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, all of which included tackling the climate crisis.

In reanimating the Paris talks, experts also believe that the US can have a much bigger effect than just reducing its own emissions, with new hope of fulfilling the Paris agreement targets of limiting climate change to two degrees.  

Laurence Tubiana, chief executive of the European Climate Foundation, summed up the mood for many in a tweet: “After holding our breath we can unlock all our energy to make 2021 the winning year for climate and sustainable development.”

What else will Biden focus on?

With coronavirus still dominating, Biden will have his hands full with his domestic agenda, and analysts have predicted that this means a trade deal with the UK will not be a top priority for the incoming president.

He is likely to focus on re-establishing the US presence at international organisations such as the World Health Organisation, while his election has also been welcomed by global scientists who expect a more pro-science-based approach to decisions, in contrast to his predecessor.

In the meantime, and despite the UK’s new Agriculture Act failing to ban low-quality imports in law, it looks like chlorinated chicken could be off the menu.

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Comments

Walrus

1 Week 2 Days

Whilst I welcome the possible results as stated and hope that at least some 60% of it may come to pass it must be remembered there are far to many "ifs and buts" to make this even a remote chance of victory at the moment - remember Biden has a lot of opposition to his ideas and what he intends to do and those are just from his own side. Optomism - yes, but let us have hopeful optomism for now.

As for the mythical chlorinated chicken, I fear a lot of this is in the fearful minds of the blind brought on by the media looking for a good story and others who have many reasons to rail about the subject which can be and are against the good of the common man on the street. But for now fingers crossed everybody!

the Walrus

3 Replies

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Ani

1 Week 2 Days

As a dual U.S.-U.K. citizen, I sincerely hope this political roller coaster has looped its final gut-lurching loop with the election of a sane and compassionate leader in the U.S.
We are all breathing a tentative sigh of relief as the world's second biggest polluter buckles in for a serious showdown with human-induced climate change!
As for the issue of hormoned-pumped and chlorine-washed meat, it only appears mythical to those who have lived under the ample, 45-year-old umbrella of E.U. Food standards. As my sister who works for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration can attest, the American legal system generally places the onus on the consumer to sue once damage has been done to their health, rather than on companies to prove from the outset that their product is safe. It's truly the wild west out there. It is why, ironically, I moved back to this country a decade ago.

1 Reply

Comments Editor

1 Week 1 Day

Thanks Ani, really good to get this up close view of what US food standards really means for consumers there.

0 Reply

Jack Thompson

1 Week 1 Day

Yes you are right, seeing how Obama was restricted and limited throughout his presidency makes me extremely wary too! Good intentions can often go awry. But at the very least, the anti-climate action rhetoric led by Trump's administration will no longer have the biggest platform in the world to embolden other anti-climate voices. That is one positive.
I know what you mean about the chlorinated chicken, it is an effective soundbite which induces an emotive response from most people. But I think that issue of chlorinated chicken is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the American agricultural industry.
I'd be interested to know who using this phrase might have a vested interest?

0 Reply

Trewin

1 Week 1 Day

I agree there is cause for optimism and hope this will not be misplaced.

There is a simple solution to helping climate change and the planet and that is to go vegetarian or vegan, then chlorinated chicken is not even an issue. It's the best thing we can all do to avoid contributing to factory farms, pollution, destruction of habitats, and water shortages worldwide.

1 Reply

Comments Editor

1 Week 1 Day

Having a plant-based diet is now widely acknowledged to be a positive step toward a more sustainable diet. We have been watching the issue of the Agriculture Bill here plus any trade deal with the US closely, as unfortunately it would affect all imports including fruit and veg if UK standards were lowered; as the US allow a much greater number of pesticides in larger amounts to be in food, this is of concern for all in terms of our own health and that of the environment.

0 Reply

Ani

1 Week 1 Day

As a dual U.S.-U.K. citizen, I sincerely hope this political roller coaster has looped its final gut-lurching loop with the election of a sane and compassionate leader in the U.S.
We are all breathing a tentative sigh of relief as the world's second-largest polluter buckles in for a serious showdown with human-induced climate change!
As for the issue of hormone-pumped and chlorine-washed meat, it only appears mythical to thoe who have lived under the ample, 45-year-old umbrella of E.U. food standards. As my sister who works for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration can attest, the American legal system generally places the onus on the consumer to sue once damage has been done to their health, rather than on companies to prove from the outset their product is safe. It is truly the wild west out there. It is why, ironically, I moved back here ten years ago.

1 Reply

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Comments Editor

1 Week 1 Day

Thanks Ani, really good to get this up close view of what US food standards really means for consumers there.

0 Reply

richjenn13

1 Week 1 Day

We can only hope that Mr Biden manages to do what he can in the face of implacable opposition from some of the most stupid and malevolent individuals in the world - more power to him.

Compare his ambitions to the measly plans of Mr Johnson and his City Chums. Look at the repeat of the "Green Deal" fiasco recently announced - a token gesture so badly conceived that it will barely scratch the surface of the problems we face.

1 Reply

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DaveK

1 Week 1 Day

Whilst I agree that the re-greening fight faces many challenges, I think that descriptions such as "the most stupid and malevolent individuals in the world" falls into the trap of appeasing those who don't require convincing whilst at the same time alienating those who do.

The people you are identifying are neither stupid, nor malevolent. If they were stupid they wouldn't have the influence they have - they are not malevolent (which actually means "wishing evil or harm to another or others") - they are business interests that exist to survive as businesses and make a profit in our well established capitalist economic environment.

The solution to persuading those who we don't agree with what we perceive as obvious common sense requires the repeated exposition of the facts. These facts in themselves make our point about the error of the system that propagates the planet-wide self inflicted threatening issues that as a species we face.

Tell the true story, Over and over until the errors/lies of the financial/business elites run out of credibility. Name calling simply entrenches the opposition and leaves them with little option but to fight or ignore us.

0 Reply

DaveK

1 Week 1 Day

Whilst I agree that the re-greening fight faces many challenges, I think that descriptions such as "the most stupid and malevolent individuals in the world" falls into the trap of appeasing those who don't require convincing whilst at the same time alienating those who do.

The people you are identifying are neither stupid, nor malevolent. If they were stupid they wouldn't have the influence they have - they are not malevolent (which actually means "wishing evil or harm to another or others") - they are business interests that exist to survive as businesses and make a profit in our well established capitalist economic environment.

The solution to persuading those who we don't agree with what we perceive as obvious common sense requires the repeated exposition of the facts. These facts in themselves make our point about the error of the system that propagates the planet-wide self inflicted threatening issues that as a species we face.

Tell the true story, Over and over until the errors/lies of the financial/business elites run out of credibility. Name calling simply entrenches the opposition and leaves them with little option but to fight or ignore us.

1 Reply

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richjenn13

1 Week 1 Day

I stand corrected on name calling - not likely to be productive.
But stupid and malevolent seems a fair description of armed thugs opposing
Mr Biden ' s election, backing Trump and declaring "Fossil fuels are God's gift to Americans and we have a right to use them" , amongst many lunacies.
It's not just the business interests , it's the uncritical acceptance of lies and untruths by people who could and should know better.
Congratulations on the high ground - My heart bleeds for American friends who live surrounded by malevolence and idiocy.

0 Reply

richjenn13

1 Week 1 Day

Ps "Wishing harm to others" sums up Trump hardcore gunmen pretty well I'd hazard

0 Reply

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