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Biden brings new momentum to global climate change agenda

Biden brings new momentum to global climate change agenda

US President Joe Biden is serious about addressing climate change. He re-joined the Paris Agreement on the first day of his presidency, adopted a ‘whole of government’ approach to addressing climate change, put forward a number of executive initiatives and revived others to reduce emissions, and has placed climate change near the centre of sweeping proposed infrastructure legislation — the American Jobs Plan.

As promised during his election campaign, Biden also convened a virtual Leaders Summit on Climate on 22 and 23 April, during which he announced an ambitious new US emissions reduction pledge under the Paris Agreement.

Is the United States back as a global leader on climate change?

Despite Biden’s efforts, the Trump administration’s aversion to international cooperation and its climate denial are still fresh in the minds of other global leaders. They also remember former US president George W Bush rejecting the Kyoto Protocol after the Clinton administration signed it. International leaders know full well that US zigzagging on climate policy arises from domestic politics — and they see familiar danger signs in Washington.

President Biden holds only razor-thin majorities in Congress, putting legislation that will be required to achieve much of his ambitious climate agenda out of reach. The President’s green infrastructure plan is already in trouble in Congress. Biden may lose even this slim congressional majority in the 2022 mid-term elections, and potentially the presidency itself in 2024 to a Trump-like Republican, putting the executive action he will have been able to undertake at great risk.

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