FILE PHOTO: Penguins are seen in South Georgia Island, in this undated photo obtained by Reuters December 11, 2020. Alek Komarnitsky/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES/File Photo


The latest spending and pandemic relief bill includes billions meant to address the climate crises hovering over our planet. The provisions, tucked away under the pile of stimulus checks and small business loans, are hailed by both parties as the most significant climate change law in at least a decade.

“Republicans and Democrats are working together to protect the environment through innovation,” said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and a noted opponent of most climate-change policies. 

The climate changes include $35 billion in spending on clean energy and curtailing the use of chemicals used in air-conditioners and refrigerators. The coolant phase-down would be one of the most significant federal policies ever taken to cut greenhouse gas emissions, according to an analysis by the Rhodium Group, a research and consulting firm. 

The dollars earmarked for curbing climate change signal President-elect Joe Biden’s determination to deal with a looming crisis that many say is already here, showing up in wildfires in the West, melting ice caps in the South and scorching summers across the globe. It also shows a willingness from both sides, even conservative Republicans, to embrace it as a climate issue, not a political one.

Biden’s goals include rejoining the Paris Agreement, cutting emissions to zero by 2050 and possibly holding a worldwide climate summit. Some Democrats are pushing him to go even further, with Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., calling for Biden to use executive action with the National Emergencies Act to make changes to transportation and spend even more on alternative energy.

“Declaring the climate crisis a national emergency under the NEA would not only send a powerful signal about the urgency of bold action, it would unlock powers that allow our nation to take significant, concrete actions regardless of congressional gridlock,” Merkley said. 

In the last few days, Biden announced his final members of his so-called climate cabinet, including New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland as interior secretary, who would be the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary, and Michael Regan as head of the embattled Environmental Protection Agency. Biden also named former Democratic presidential nominee and Secretary of State, John Kerry, as his climate czar, a new position on the National Security Council. Kerry expressed worry over conflict that could result from climate change reducing the number of habitable places on Earth.

Many prefer to look at the crises as an opportunity. Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said Sunday that Biden hoped to take advantage of the economic boom offered by combating climate change. “[…]there’s going to be trillions of dollars spent globally on combating climate change by countries around the world,” Granholm said on ABC’s “This Week.”


This section includes an aggregation of articles showing different viewpoints on the topic.

No free climate lunch  – American Enterprise Institute – 12/22/2020
Either way, if the incoming Biden administration intends to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, not just talk, it faces an unpleasant confrontation with Beijing.

Biden climate team’s foes: Time, politics and bureaucracyRoll Call – 12/21/2020
The effects of climate change were already apparent in 2016 when Donald Trump, then president-elect, introduced his team of nominees to lead energy and environmental policies and help “unleash” American fossil energy industries.

Trump’s toilet obsession symbolizes years spent flushing the climate down the drain – NBC News – 12/19/2020
So perhaps it’s no surprise that after spending four years denying climate change and rolling back environmental protections, one of his last moves as his administration circles the drain is to mandate that showers and dishwashers be allowed to use excessive amounts of water.

Joe Biden’s climate agenda is all about creating a crisis — not actually fixing one – New York Post – 12/21/2020
Former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel’s famous axiom is that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste. It’s an even a worse thing to manufacture.

You Can Refuse to Work for Fossil Fuel Companies—These Law Students Show How – The Nation – 12/22/2020
We hoped to begin this term of law school enjoying the clear skies and clean air of Northern California. The climate crisis had other ideas.

A Love Letter From the Clean Energy Future – Sierra Club – 12/22/2020
I always go into these presentations with some trepidation, because I know that many young people are overwhelmed by despair about climate change, and I want to be clear about what’s at stake without adding to their anxiety. After I finished, one of the students offered a simple appreciation that lifted a weight off my shoulders: “Honestly, this presentation has been a relief. I feel so much better. Thank you.”

A Commitment To Environmental Justice: Why Black Communities Deserve A Fair And Inclusive Agenda – Blavity – 12/22/2020
Last month, Black voters turned out for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in unprecedented numbers because they know the United States stands on the brink of disaster. President-elect Biden aptly named the four crises facing our nation: coronavirus, economic recession, structural racism and climate change. Across all four, Black people continue to face the worst effects. 

New research exposes the harsh realities of hurricanes in a warmer world – Brookings – 12/21/2020
Unlike yet another academic study, it will be hard for financiers to ignore this latest analysis.


This section includes an aggregation of tweets showing different viewpoints on the topic.

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