US President Joe Biden, signed a series of executive orders to address climate change, focusing on the fossil fuel industry. The enormous contribution of animal agriculture to greenhouse gas emissions has however been ignored.
The orders aim to freeze new oil and gas leases on public lands and double offshore wind-produced energy by 2030. They are expected to meet stiff resistance from the energy industry and come as a sea change from Donald Trump, who cut environmental protections.
“Today is climate day at the White House,” said Mr Biden on Wednesday. “We have already waited too long,” Mr Biden told reporters at the White House. “And we can’t wait any longer.”
Mr Biden said the US “must lead” a global response to the climate change crisis. “Just like we need a unified national response to Covid-19, we desperately need a unified national response to the climate crisis because there is a climate crisis,” he said. He added that neither challenge could be met by the US alone.
The series of executive orders that Mr Biden signed on Wednesday establishes a White House office of domestic climate policy and announces a summit of leaders to be held in April on Earth Day. Climate change, under Mr Biden’s plan, will become both a “national security” and “foreign policy” priority, officials say.
Mr Biden is also calling upon the US director of national intelligence to prepare an intelligence report on the security implications of climate change.
What do the orders do?
Mr Biden is using his presidential powers to make climate change a central issue of his administration.
The executive orders and memorandum – which cannot go as far as congressional legislation in combating climate change – can be undone by future presidents, as he is currently doing to Mr Trump.
According to a White House statement, Mr Biden is directing the Department of the Interior to pause oil and gas drilling leases on federal lands and water “to the extent possible” and to launch a review of existing energy leases. Mr Biden aims to conserve at least 30% of federal lands and oceans by 2030.
According to the New York Times, fossil fuel extraction on public lands accounts for almost a quarter of all US carbon dioxide emissions. Mr Biden’s order does not specifically address private property owners or state-held public lands.
He has signed more than three dozen executive orders in his first week in office, more than any of his predecessors.
What other climate measures is he taking?
Mr Biden’s “whole-of-government” approach, the White House says, creates the position National Climate Advisor who will lead the office of Domestic Climate Policy at the White House.
The presidential climate envoy, former Secretary of State John Kerry, conceded to reporters on Wednesday that it would make little difference in the global climate change fight if the US reduced its emissions to zero.
“He [Mr Biden] knows Paris [climate accord] alone is not enough,” Mr Kerry said. “Not when almost 90% of all of the planet’s global emissions come from outside of US borders. We could go to zero tomorrow and the problem isn’t solved The orders also direct federal agencies to prepare for the impact of climate change on their operations and improve access to information on the issue.
Mr Biden also directed agencies to only make “evidence-based decisions guided by the best available science and data”.
Original source: https://www.bbc.com/news