Joe Biden has unveiled a radical change in direction from the Trump era with a number of executive orders aimed at combatting climate change, as he warned that the climate crisis poses an “existential threat” to the world.
Biden signed orders halting fossil fuel activity on public lands and directing the US government to make lowering emissions a priority.
“We have already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis, we can’t wait any longer,” the US president said as he signed a number of executive orders on Wednesday. “We see it with our own eyes, we feel it in our bones. It’s time to act.”
The US government has been instructed to pause and review all oil and gas drilling on federal land, eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and transform the government’s vast fleet of cars and trucks into electric vehicles, in a sweeping set of changes.
“We desperately need unified national response to the climate crisis, because there is a climate crisis,” Biden said.
He also promised to put “environmental justice” at the center of his efforts to combat the disproportionate effects of climate change on Black and brown communities in the US, via policy and funding changes.
John Kerry, the US special climate envoy on climate, said plans are being put in place to announce a target for reducing US greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 under the Paris climate accord before an international climate summit that Biden will host on April 22nd.
Kerry said that workers had been fed a “false narrative” on the climate crisis. “They’ve been fed the notion that somehow dealing with climate is coming at their expense. No it’s not,” he said, stressing the opportunities for employment available in renewables.