By Eric Khodorenko
Graphic By Jennifer Notman
The recent election of Joseph R. Biden promises a more ambitious climate agenda with goals like 100% clean energy and net-zero emissions in America by 2050. Biden is a sharp turn after ex-president Donald Trump’s decisive and highly controversial environmental policies totaling to over one hundred rollbacks; including the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, an accord that almost every country has signed and whose goal is to keep global warming well beneath 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Biden’s promises come at a pivotal point in human history. Glaciers are melting at an increasingly rapid pace, animal species are being wiped out, sea levels are rising, and an increasing number of superstorms are threatening lives. Biden has promised to reverse many of Trump’s environmental rollbacks and has already re-entered the Paris Climate Accord. The importance of these promises cannot be understated because climate change is accelerating exponentially. The AP Environmental Science teacher at Las Lomas Mr. Merken reinforces this when asked about the importance of the issue of climate change, “extremely critical, the most important issue the world should be dealing with.” There’s no doubt about the severity of climate change, however what is especially important now, is how Biden plans on accomplishing his vision of an emissions-free America.
Biden’s climate plan is an expansive list that can’t be entirely covered in one article. However, the proposal boasts a $1.7 trillion investment over the next ten years and uses the Green New Deal as a framework. Additionally, Biden plans to make the biggest investment in clean energy research and innovation. As part of the $1.7 billion budget, Biden intends to create “the Industries of the Future” by investing $400 billion over the next ten years. His proposals include important plans like his call for the second great railroad revolution, which would begin to connect America with high speed rail systems. He specifically mentions completing the California High Speed Rail project which has been delayed numerous times due to rising costs. Another focus of Biden’s plan is accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles. He plans to support the deployment of more than 500,000 new public charging outlets by the end of 2030, reinstate the federal tax credit of $7,500 for electric vehicles, and focus on targeting middle class consumers. Biden plans on pursuing measures that will incentivize airlines to create sustainable fuels for aircraft as they account for 2% of global emissions. Another important change in his plan is to require public companies, like Exxon or Mobil, to disclose climate risks in their operations and supply chains. All of these ideas will bring progress to our goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but is it enough to get there?
The concern with climate change is the lack of room to fail. If emissions aren’t reduced in time, we will cause more irreversible damage that will affect generations to come. Las Lomas sophomore, Justine Weingartner, said, “If we’re talking about something wrong with this plan I think it has to do with the question of ‘Is what he is doing enough?’ Although this is the most ambitious plan we’ve seen in the White House, it still might not accomplish enough to really bring a pause to the climate crisis.” Mr. Merken doubles down when asked if the plan is doing enough, “No, but it is a start and the next president can continue to build on what he started.” The additional problem is congressional roadblocks. Moderate Democratic senators have stated that they oppose eliminating the filibuster which would allow Biden’s climate plan to pass without any Republican senators voting for it. Due to the current opposition to the elimination of the filibuster, ten members of the Republican party would be needed to pass the legislation. While Biden’s green proposals are an enormous leap towards cutting emissions, they will most likely be cut down and reduced in congress unless the filibuster is eliminated. The resistant skepticism continues to have power and the science says we may only have thirty years left to prevent the worst effects of climate change.