This Hat Blogs: Trump gets Trumped, but what are the environmental implications of a Biden presidency?

It is interesting that the definition for reality TV can be equally applied to American politics. I think “Television programmes in which ordinary people are continuously filmed, designed to be entertaining rather than informative” is quite a good description of what we have seen in the last few weeks, though I may not have used the word “ordinary” to describe either of the presidential candidates.

The election was continuously covered on the tele (no thanks to Nevada), it was entertaining and it definitely wasn’t informative. However, it is easy to forget that such a farce carries with it massive implications for our future. For the first of what will be frequent ThisHat blogs, we wanted to dive in on the environmental impacts of a Biden Presidency which has been touted as including the most ambitious climate change program of any mainstream US presidential candidate yet. 

Some context: Trump comes into office in 2016 and immediately blasts everything Obama had done environmentally. “We are going to turn everything around … and quickly, very quickly” he says. He begins the process of withdrawing the US from the Paris Agreement (signed only in 2015), and replaces Obama’s Clean Power Plan, he also weakens fuel economy standards for cars. These are all highly significant (and detrimental) decisions; the Paris Agreement signified a global attempt to reduce carbon emissions, the clean power plan put America in a position to start prioritizing renewable energy sources (it abolishment was tailored to please the fossil fuel industry) and economy standards for cars represented the single most important effort for reining in the largest driven of US emissions. These changes, along with some others, resulted in the reversal of three consecutive years of declining US carbon emissions. Trump didn’t care for climate change, to paraphrase one of his tweets, it was all a ploy by the Chinese to make US manufacturing non-competitive anyways. 

Fast forward to the present day and Biden, very much in opposition to old Donald, has made various groundbreaking pledges relating to Climate Change and a Green New Deal. He’s already said America will rejoin the Paris Agreement, and plans to spend $2 trillion over the next four years to make the country more energy efficient. These investments seem targeted towards a multitude of things: biofuels, airline emissions, carbon capturing, building restrictions and other seemingly technical enterprises. By 2035, he claims, American production will be carbon free and by 2050 the country will be carbon neutral. These are big promises, but we should be pragmatic about the situation. Biden has a lot of great ideas but there is little promise of how they are going to be implemented. History tells us that there is an unpredictability to presidencies that we have to be wary of. 

Can we say Bi-den to global warming as America seemingly re-opens its arms to sustainability? It is tough to say.