The Trump administration has waged what I and many other legal experts view as an all-out assault on the nation’s environmental laws for the past four years. Decisions at…
It does not feel at all hyperbolic to say that the survival of humanity is threatened in the 2020 election pitting Senator Joe Biden (D-DL), former Vice President under Barack Obama, against incumbent President Donald Trump. Considering the divisiveness of this election and extreme polarization around practically every major issue — including the coronavirus pandemic — it is no surprise that these two differ wildly on the significance of climate change. In July, Biden announced he would invest $2 trillion to transition the US to a renewable energy economy that would take us to net-zero emissions before 2050. In contrast, President Trump has called climate change “a hoax” and spent his first term rolling back environmental regulations while supporting fossil fuel companies whenever possible. Biden’s response: “When Donald Trump thinks about climate change, the only word he can muster is ‘hoax.’ When I think about climate change, the word I think of is ‘jobs.”
Oddly enough, President Trump’s campaign website does not list goals or make promises for the upcoming term; it simply touts “achievements,” which include allowing “financing for coal and fossil energy projects,” repealing Obama’s Clean Power Plan to replace it with the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, and keeping his promise to take America out of the Paris Climate Agreement. The ACE Rule will do little to slow emissions and, by some policy analysts’ projections, potentially actually lead to increased emissions compared to a scenario with no plan at all.
Biden was been a proponent of clean energy for many years as a US Senator. As Obama’s Vice-President, he called fighting climate change, “the single most important thing” they could do in the White House and supported strongly the former President’s use of Executive Orders to achieve climate policy — including rolling out the Clean Power Plan and signing the Paris Agreement. Biden has a lengthy history of supporting measures to combat climate change including carbon pricing, introducing climate resilience plans (including the Climate Protection Act 1986, the first climate change bill in the Senate), and investing in renewable energy. However, he has resisted calling for a ban on fracking, a controversial method of extracting natural gas.
Nevertheless, Biden’s 2020 environmental platform has drawn support even from his onetime critics. His current aggressive stance towards combatting climate change, some argue, has gained strength from young activists who vehemently supported Bernie in the primaries and made clear that climate action was a condition for their vote.
Ultimately, the stakes of the 2020 election could not be higher. As the US is currently the second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, the decisions being made by voters this year have global ramifications. We will either choose tyranny and an unfettered slide into climate chaos, or we will finally start moving toward climate resilience in a strategic, holistic way. The difference is truly that stark.