After four years of gross incompetence, Biden promises decisive action in the fight for our planet


Graphic by Jessica Wu

After four years of environmental destruction, it finally seems like the world is on a path to a more sustainable future.

Christopher Mejia, Opinions Writer

Catastrophic hurricanes, extreme temperatures and mass erosion are just a few of the many problems that humanity has been facing due to the climate crisis. As the world continues to recklessly poison the planet with pollutants and greenhouse gasses, these issues will only worsen, threatening human civilization as we know it. Up until the 2016 election, we had an administration that cared about preserving the planet for the next generation by planning bold policies and enacting positive change. However, during the disastrous four years under Donald Trump, the world seemed to fracture and humanity undid years of progress.

As a result of this, climate change became a pivotal issue during the 2020 election, with Joe Biden promising to reverse the damage Trump inflicted while moving beyond the breakthroughs of the Obama administration. Biden set the tone for his presidency on his first day in office. Via immediate executive action, Biden re-entered the U.S. into the Paris Climate Accords (PCA), simultaneously issuing a statement that he intends for America to build towards net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2035. Together, Biden’s climate agenda, with its complex rollout, bipartisan appeal and rigid schedule is enough for those who have climate change as a top priority.

To put this in perspective, Trump repealed over 100 crucial environmental policies during his time in office. This played a part in America’s large emission spike, the U.S. contributing 5,269.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in just 2017. From pulling out of the PCA to greenlighting the Keystone XL pipeline and even limiting habitat protections for endangered species, a crucial period regarding the fight against this threat was missed due to ignorance, entitlement and sheer lack of interest on behalf of the previous presidency.

Though much of the current administration’s efforts are going towards halting the rampaging COVID-19, Biden has made clear that going forward, America’s economic and environmental paths will be intertwined. Not only has the administration already assembled an extensive portfolio of highly-skilled climate experts, but the Biden team claims that the era of niche change has come to an end, solidifying global warming as a focus.

To fulfill his net-zero goal by 2035, Biden has outlined numerous methods in which the U.S. can wean itself off non-renewable resources. The administration plans to allocate $400 billion in public and private green energy infrastructure over the next 10 years. This funding will go towards traditional producers such as wind turbines and domestic solar farms, while the Department of Energy and other governmental organizations will continue to develop newer, more effective methods of energy production.

To halt greenhouse gasses at their source, Biden also plans on levying heavy penalties against individuals and companies overly generous with their carbon emission output. Taking full advantage of the law, Biden will task the Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency with investigating and charging transgressors, threatening steep fines and possible incarceration. Biden has already taken steps towards corporate accountability by requiring companies to disclose their total greenhouse gas emissions and potential climate-related financial risks

Additionally, to overcome fierce partisanship and Republican unwillingness to counter climate change, Biden entices both sides of the aisle with his promise to create 10 million middle-class clean-energy jobs. By moving workers from fossil-fuel-intensive industries to more sustainable ones, the American economy will strengthen while benefiting the environment.

Though everyone is feeling the effects of climate change, those in disadvantaged communities experience the brunt of health and economic impacts. Households in the lowest income bracket spend twice the proportion of their income on electricity as opposed to wealthier ones. In response, Biden plans on investing 40 percent of the clean energy budget into funding disadvantaged communities. With these investments, things such as drinking water and the aforementioned sustainable jobs would be available to those who have no other opportunities or resources.

While many people may not agree with Biden’s political policies, those relating to the preservation of our planet should not be politicized. The very real climate threat we face is not a matter of opinion, but fact. The goal must be to help create a better country for all Americans, not just Democrats or Republicans. Our responsibility as the global leader is to set the standard for the rest of the world to follow, and together, we must set forward on a path towards environmental justice. If not for the sake of humanity, for the sake of the planet we have taken for granted.

Noa Karasik contributed to this article.