Lately, I have been feeling a lot of climate anxiety. The world feels the clock is ticking on the time we have to take action against climate change, although governments are not taking the much-needed steps to address it. Understanding the American people’s frustration at government inaction against climate change under the Trump Administration, Biden ran on many zealous campaign promises to create clean energy jobs and drastically reduce America’s carbon emissions. After 2 years into his presidency, Biden’s climate change promises leave much to be desired.
Biden has an ambitious goal of “[creating] a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and net-zero emissions economy by no later than 2050” (WhiteHouse). Biden also detailed plans to create new clean energy jobs and invest in American infrastructure to make it cleaner and less reliant on fossil-fuel-powered energy sources. On his first day in the White House, Biden re-joined the Paris Agreement, an international pledge of over 150 nations to fight climate change through curbing their greenhouse gas emissions. However, since then, Biden has left many of his climate change promises largely unfulfilled. Much of his plan rests on the passing of the Build Back Better Bill, which would give $555 billion to clean energy provisions. However, this bill is currently under deliberation in the Senate, due to Democratic Senator Joe Manchin’s refusal to agree to the current terms of the bill. Furthermore, Democrats face major challenges in the upcoming midterm elections, which could flip the Senate back into Republican control, where passing that bill would be highly unlikely. In addition, the Biden administration also recently sold 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico, which would be used for drilling, furthering the fossil fuel industry and dependency. The Biden Administration is largely under-delivering on their climate change goals, yet not all hope is lost.
Biden plans to regulate the tailpipe emissions of 2023 automobile models, and still has the power of executive orders, even if they may not be as impactful as passing bills through Congress. For example, in December, Biden signed an executive order that would mandate the federal government to “Buy Clean”. This means over 300,000 government buildings and 600,000 government vehicles would be transitioned to be carbon-free.
So far, the actions of the Biden Administration have been underwhelming and disappointing when evaluating their bold promises to fight climate change through progressive legislation. However, if Democrats are able to pass Build Back Better and keep the House and Senate through midterms, Biden will still have 2 more years to fulfill his climate goals.