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Will President Biden preserve, protect and defend our planet?

20 January 2021, 13:32 GMT 3 min read

Amy Davidsen, Executive Director of North America

Today’s inauguration will be like no other in the history of the United States of America. There will be no arguments over how big the crowd of spectators amassed on the National Mall; it will be largely empty. The military presence will be greater than the number of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq combined, tensions will be high, and while the Capitol will look resplendent to convey the full pomp and ceremony that this historic moment necessitates, scars will still be visible on the Capitol building from the events of January 6.

Democracy was put on trial two weeks ago, in part, due to a steady stream of misinformation about the election outcome. Today is evidence in the central belief that facts matter.

It is because factual reality supersedes political gamesmanship that another historic moment is likely to garner attention today, one with an impact on our planet that will outlive a four- or eight-year term. President Joe Biden is expected to sign an executive order for the US to rejoin the Paris Agreement. While on its own this action will not save the planet from global warming, the implications of the move and the swiftness of the action is significant for global climate action. In a year that will conclude with the global COP26 Summit in Glasgow, where success will be determined by effective global leadership, this is a game changer.

However, in order to be welcomed fully back at the global climate table, the US needs to increase its ambition by submitting a new 2030 NDC that aligns with climate science and the Administration’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.


With the slimmest of Senate majorities and the challenges of recovering from a global pandemic, it will not be an easy task to reassert Washington as the epicenter of global climate leadership. But there is a majority and a renewed opportunity to unite around a clean energy transition. And with vaccinations rolling out across the country a recovery is a reality that is now within our grasp. So, while it may not be easy, it is as possible as it is essential.

Ambitious targets have already been set out by Britain, host of COP26 in November and the G7 summit earlier in June. Europe, with whom we must forge stronger bonds as the UK dissolves its bridge to the continent, has also shown the level of change they wish to achieve. China, while less ambitious in its target, has displayed something perhaps more significant with their decision to join the growing list of global voices declaring their commitment to taking action. All around the world national leaders are setting out the quantity and the quality of the commitments that they are prepared to put forward into this critical agreement. 

That ambition is also on display much closer to home, and the new President will benefit from the transformative impact we have seen from the private sector and State leadership.

America has not been asleep at the wheel when it comes to taking climate action and with the lack of Federal support these last four years, it is these leaders who have kept the clean engine running, while demonstrating that green jobs are not an academic ideal but a practical reality that will be the backbone of our economic recovery.

As America rejoins the Paris Agreement all eyes will be on the new administration to see what commitments and actions will result. When Biden stands on the platform outside the Capitol this afternoon he will pledge to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. When he takes his seat in the Oval Office his commitment to preserve, protect and defend our planet will be just as significant for the country, as for the world