FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at an event of the “World War Zero” climate coalition during the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid, Spain December 11, 2019. REUTERS/Susana Vera/File Photo

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

President Joe Biden signed executive orders Wednesday to spark the most comprehensive effort ever by the U.S. to slow the effects of climate change. The orders target federal subsidies for fossil fuels, halt new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters and move to an all-electric federal vehicle fleet.

“We’ve already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis and we can’t wait any longer,” Biden said. “We see it with our own eyes, we feel it, we know it in our bones.”

Biden has set a goal of eliminating pollution from fossil fuel in the power sector by 2035 and from the U.S. economy overall by 2050. But another goal was “restoring scientific integrity,” backed by orders elevating climate change to a national security priority, directing federal agencies to rely on science in their rule-making and convene a climate summit of world leaders on Earth Day. The orders also establish a White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy. 

 A study examining ocean-surface temperatures and published in the journal “Nature” revealed that the planet is the hottest it’s been in at least 12,000 years, a period spanning the development of human civilization. A United Nations poll of 1.2 million across the globe found that two-thirds believe climate change is a global emergency and want urgent action to tackle the issue. Teenagers are some of the most fervent groups calling for action. 

The Biden administration views climate change so seriously that John Kerry, Biden’s climate czar, said the U.S. would treat it as a “standalone issue” with China, meaning the U.S. would not bring up the country’s human rights abuses in discussions about climate change. Kerry also said Biden would be the first president to have U.S. intelligence agencies study the national security risks posed by climate change. 

“The stakes on climate change just simply couldn’t be any higher than they are right now,” Kerry said. “It is existential.”

Republicans saw Biden’s executive orders as an opportunity to gain seats in the House and Senate, as some said Biden’s promises to limit oil and gas development turned voters off, limiting the blue wave that pollsters predicted would come in November.

“You don’t need a crystal ball to see that Joe Biden’s anti-energy, job-killing agenda is a big problem for vulnerable Democrats — it cost House Democrats seats last cycle and it will cost them even more this cycle,” National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Torunn Sinclair said in a statement.

The American Exploration and Production Council said in a statement Wednesday that Biden’s plan to ban drilling leasing on federal land is killing American jobs and emergency independence in an economy struggling from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Penalizing the oil and gas industry kills good-paying American jobs, hurts our already struggling economy, makes our country more reliant on foreign energy sources, and impacts those who rely on affordable and reliable energy,” Anne Bradbury said. “We want to be partners in our nation’s economic recovery and growth.”

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

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

‘Energy’ Is Its Name. But What Can the DOE Actually Do on Climate? – New York Times – 1/27/2021
Jennifer M. Granholm, who faced a confirmation hearing Wednesday morning as President Biden’s nominee to head the Department of Energy, is widely expected to play a central role in the administration’s efforts to confront climate change. But that raises a question: How much can an energy secretary realistically do to help reduce America’s planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions?

John Kerry Admits: Even ‘Zero’ U.S. Emissions Won’t Solve Climate Change – Breitbart – 1/27/2021
John Kerry, the new “Climate Envoy” in President Joe Biden’s administration, admitted to reporters Wednesday in the White House briefing room that the problem of climate change would not be solved even if U.S. emissions were “zero.”

How to Get Republicans to Seriously Fight Climate Change – Slate Magazine – 1/27/2021
On Inauguration Day, former Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who represented the southern tip of Florida from 2015–19, wrote a letter to Joe Biden that basically told the new president, Don’t forget about Republicans when you push your climate change agenda. Curbelo, who co-founded the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus, is optimistic about getting members of his party to take climate action.

Biden’s Executive Actions Just Scratch the Surface – The American Prospect – 1/27/2021
As a palate cleanser to get the taste of the Trump era out of our collective mouths, it’s a great start. It gives the impression of decisive forward motion. The PR value of devoting each day to a particular crisis has paid off. And what Biden is doing, even if it extends only to reversing Trump-era rules and actions, will help a lot of people. We shouldn’t forget that.

Climate politics: What congressional Democrats can learn from state legislatures – Brookings – 1/27/2021
As the federal government navigates this transition, a pair of states offer some potential lessons. Both Virginia and Colorado underwent comparable political transitions during the last two years.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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

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