• Andrew Byrne

Say it ain't no, Joe: Biden's positive environment policies bring U.S. back into the fold

Updated: Nov 12

Source: Adam Kittredge from Pexels

It was with a delighted sigh of relief that environmentalists the world over greeted the news that Joe Biden is to be the 46th President of the United States. This was particularly true in America where the nation has taken a step back from the abyss into which it would have been looking had Donald Trump being granted another four years in the White House.

Trump’s charge sheet during his term of office on environmental matters was long and his continuing dismissal of concerns over the climate crisis gave genuine cause for alarm. When Trump announced in June 2017 that the US would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, UN regulations meant that there would be a three year delay before the withdrawal became official.

It did so on November 4th, the day after the US election, as confusion reigned over what appeared to be a neck-and-neck battle to be President. Joe Biden had always insisted that the US would rejoin the agreement if he became President and as President-Elect, he has reiterated that this will be the case.

Despite continuing with baseless claims that the election was fraudulent, even Trump will have to bow to the inevitable but the concern now is to the level of petulant damage he can wreak before he is removed from Pennsylvania Avenue.

There is encouragement to be taken from the efforts made by media outlets formerly among Trump’s loudest champions who are now distancing themselves from his poisoned rhetoric and lies. It has also been noticeable that some prominent Republicans are doing the same.

But this is a time to look to the future and to relish the prospect of the US returning to the progressive environmental policies last seen during Barack Obama’s presidency. Biden has set a goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050 and will act in accord with China, Japan, the EU, UK and others who are following a similar path.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the need to address the climate crisis and that the pandemic led to the cancellation of Cop26 – the crucial UN climate summit – until next November may ultimately turn out to be a blessing. Forward-thinking countries will no longer be able to claim solidarity with the US in resisting the clamour for setting ever bolder targets.

As ever with the climate crisis, there is a sense of a clock ticking but President-Elect Biden’s long career at the forefront of American politics and knowledge of how Washington works will help make the transition to a new government that much easier. The climate plan which he issued during his campaign should act as a balm to everybody.

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