In 2008, the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70% by 2050. It was, by far, the strongest global warming bill that had been introduced on the Senate floor. It had the potential to jump-start the Clean Energy Revolution Democrats currently want to implement.
Yet, the bill’s collapse during Obama’s first term illustrated how fractured the Democratic Coalition was on green energy. By missing the vote, Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden distanced the administration from a more vigorous campaign against global warming.
However, Biden has come out stronger for climate policies than expected, despite being slower to embrace the flagship Green New Deal. He stated that he aims to reach net-zero emissions no later than 2050. But, as “moderate” Democrats shot down the Lieberman-Warner Security Act, there is uncertainty with how effectively Biden will execute his promised green platform.
The Green New Deal and Biden’s Clean Energy Revolution
According to Biden’s climate and justice proposal, he will invest over $1.7 trillion into the environment sector. If he follows through, this could create high paying jobs in green energy and rejuvenation of climate-stricken impoverished areas. As opposed to his more moderate policies, Biden has appealed strongly to the left on global warming.
Biden even teamed up with Bernie Sanders to create a series of climate change tasks force, which includes John Kerry, as well as Alexandra Ocasio Cortez, who heads the Green New Deal.
How far a Democratic Nominee embraces the Green New Deal has become largely emblematic of the nominees’ campaign platform. For example, while Biden agreed to place money into the green sector, he has yet to ban fracking or nationalize the energy industry. This puts him in line with more moderate Democratic interests; which could dampen his commitment to green energy in exchange for economic benefits.
Biden’s stance on environmental foreign policy
As Trump pulled from the Paris Agreement in 2017, Biden claims to go beyond “recommitting the U.S. to the Paris Agreement.” He wants to make America the face of environmental change, “rallying the rest of the world.” This at least illustrates he will be more willing than Trump to integrate climate change into U.S. foreign policy.
However, his environmental foreign policy still centers largely around policing. He states that he will not “allow other nations, such as China, to game the system.”
Biden also promises to impose carbon adjustment fees on polluter countries. This means he mainly aims to ensure that workers are not at a “competitive disadvantage” with foreign manufacturing.
So Biden’s platform really hinges on a balance between climate change and economic interests—rather than a full commitment to either.
Jessica is a writer based in NYC, with bylines at Vox and EGMNOW. You can pitch her stories at jessica [at] therising.co