Biden plans to make climate change an 'all-of-government' agenda
Let’s just start by acknowledging that whatever the incoming Biden administration does on climate change, it likely won’t be enough for environmental activists and it likely shouldn’t be. Nonetheless, we are starting to get some encouraging news about Joe Biden’s approach to tackling climate change issues.
Most importantly, rather than relegating climate action to a single agency, Biden plans to take a whole-of-government approach to combatting the biggest existential threat of our time. According to The Washington Post, he plans to “embed action” across the federal government in departments ranging from Agriculture to Treasury to State instead of simply tasking the Environmental Protection Agency with creating every climate initiative. Most of it will be done by executive action rather than requiring the passage of legislation.
“From the very beginning of the campaign, when President-elect Biden rolled out his climate plan, he made it clear he sees this as an all-of-government agenda, domestic, economic, foreign policy,” Stef Feldman, campaign policy director for Biden, told the Post.
In a sign of how Biden has already elevated the issue, he discussed the topic with every European head of state with whom he spoke on Tuesday, including the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Ireland. Biden has started frequently referring to the climate “crisis,” suggesting a heightened level of urgency.
Team Biden is already planning to “restrict oil and gas drilling on public lands and waters; ratchet up federal mileage standards for cars and SUVs; block pipelines that transport fossil fuels across the country; provide federal incentives to develop renewable power; and mobilize other nations to make deeper cuts in their own carbon emissions.”
Biden will benefit greatly from an extensive new 300-page report conceived by former Obama administration officials that details both the possibilities and pitfalls that exist given some of the Obama-era stumbles on the issue.
The recommendations include creating a White House National Climate Council that is “co-equal” to the Domestic Policy Council and National Economic Council; establish a “carbon bank” under the USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation that could pay farmers and forest owners to store carbon in their soils and lands; push to electrify cars and trucks through the Transportation Department; and develop a climate policy at the Treasury Department that promotes carbon reductions through tax, budget and regulatory policies.
We must be ready to push for action on this and so many other priorities from Day One. But the prospect of tasking every U.S. government agency internally with looking for ways to be part of a climate change solution could truly be a game-changer.