On January 27th, 2021, President Joe Biden signed a sweeping executive order on climate change, signaling his administration’s commitment to addressing the existential threat of climate change. The order includes a range of actions aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, promoting clean energy, and advancing environmental justice. Here are some of the key highlights of the executive order:
Rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement
The United States will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, which the country originally signed in 2015 but withdrew from under the Trump administration. This move sends a strong signal to the rest of the world that the US is once again committed to global efforts to combat climate change.
Establishing a National Climate Task Force
The executive order creates a National Climate Task Force, chaired by the White House National Climate Advisor and consisting of leaders from across the federal government. The task force will be responsible for coordinating the administration’s efforts to tackle the climate crisis and implementing the various actions outlined in the executive order.
Halting New Oil and Gas Leases on Federal Land and Water
The executive order directs the Department of the Interior to pause new oil and gas leases on federal land and water, with the goal of eventually phasing out fossil fuel extraction on public lands altogether. This move is a significant step towards transitioning to a clean energy economy and protecting public lands and waters.
Advancing Environmental Justice
The executive order recognizes the disproportionate impact of climate change on low-income communities and communities of color, and includes several provisions aimed at advancing environmental justice. These include directing federal agencies to prioritize investments in environmental justice communities, establishing a White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council, and creating a new position within the Department of Justice to address environmental justice issues.
Creating Clean Energy Jobs
The executive order includes several measures aimed at creating new clean energy jobs and promoting the growth of the clean energy sector. These include directing federal agencies to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy on public lands and waters, establishing a new Civilian Climate Corps to provide job opportunities in conservation and other climate-related fields, and directing the Department of Energy to support the development of clean energy technologies.
Addressing Climate Change in Foreign Policy and National Security
The executive order recognizes that climate change is a global threat that requires a coordinated international response. It directs federal agencies to integrate climate considerations into their foreign policy and national security planning, and establishes a new position of Special Presidential Envoy for Climate within the State Department to lead diplomatic efforts on climate change.
Promoting Climate Science
The executive order reaffirms the importance of scientific integrity and directs federal agencies to prioritize evidence-based decision-making in their actions related to climate change. It also directs the establishment of a new Presidential Science Advisor position and a new National Climate Assessment to provide regular updates on the state of the climate and the impacts of climate change.
Overall, President Biden’s executive order on climate change represents a significant shift in US policy towards climate action. It recognizes the urgency of the climate crisis and outlines a comprehensive set of actions to address it. While there is still much work to be done to achieve a sustainable and equitable future, this executive order is an important first step towards that goal.