While his climate plan was weaker than some other candidates on the Democratic primary trail, President-elect Joe Biden has won the White House on a promise of reversing President Trump’s environmentally unsound policies. Biden’s first few days post-election show he’s still committed to his climate promises, and is pointedly forming bonds with foreign leaders to get them done.
Biden made calls this week to the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, and Ireland, and discussed fighting climate change with all of them, The Washington Post reports via readouts of their calls. The U.S. formally removed itself from the Paris climate agreement with all of these leaders just days ago, but Biden will start his term by rejoining the agreement immediately.
Biden also revealed his and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ agency review teams for ensuring a smooth transition to their administration on Tuesday. Patrice Simms, an attorney at the nonprofit law firm Earthjustice, which has sued the Trump administration over environmental protections, will lead Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency transition team. “His elevation is a sign of Biden’s desire to reinstitute rules rolled back by the Trump administration,” the Post notes.
But both Obama administration officials and progressives from Justice Democrats and the Sunrise Movement want Biden to make climate change an issue of Cabinet-level importance. The Climate 21 Project — a collection of goals from former Obama officials —and those progressive groups have called on Biden to create an executive office or council focused on climate change. This department would help mobilize climate action and the movement toward clean energy across the country, doing more than just reversing the last four years of anti-environmental policies. Kathryn Krawczyk