What a Biden Presidency means for Climate Change
The infamous climate change denier Donald Trump announced in 2017 that he would take the US out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement that his predecessor, Obama, had signed. However, the incoming President Joe Biden has expressed a strong interest to remain as part of the agreement, meaning that Trump's actions will have little effect.
The agreement that the US officially left on 4th November 2020 is focussed around one central aim: to keep the rise in global temperature below 2 degrees for the century. In order to achieve this, the agreement outlines targets which will contribute to reducing global heating. Three of the main ways the agreement aims to achieve this goal are the following: reach the peak of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, communicate emissions every 5 year showing progress and improve climate change education. Biden has announced that reversing the exit of this agreement will be one of his first acts as President.
However, Biden is committed to going further than the agreement. While his proposition is not as extreme as the Green New Deal, it would still be the most progressive climate change action the US has ever implemented. Part of his plan, dubbed he Climate 21 Project, is to make sure that all of the electricity generated in the US is carbon neutral by 2035. This, coupled with a push to increase the electrification of cars and trucks means that the US would likely reach its target of being carbon neutral by 2050. This is likely to have a significant impact given that 18% of US green house gas emissions came from cars and trucks in 2018. These actions alone are predicted to reduce global heating by 0.1 degrees. When this is considered in the context of other global giants, such as China, committing to reducing climate change the Paris Agreement target of 2 degrees seems to become more and more realistic.
Moreover, Biden's $2 trillion investment plan, scheduled over a four year period, is set to improve the efficiency of both commercial and private property. While this has immediate benefits to reducing emissions, as it reduces energy waste, it also has economic benefits. Biden claims that the reduced electricity consumption will save US businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars. Therefore, he argues, reducing the progression of climate change does not have to cripple the US economy.
Overall, Biden is aiming to reduce global heating, principally, by making US electricity production carbon neutral by 2035. This will work in conjunction with other policies, such as the $2 trillion investment, to ensure that the US is carbon neutral by 2050. If he, and other emissions giants, are successful in reducing their impact, low lying islands such as the Maldives might remain above sea level.