WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden signed a series of executive actions to tackle the growing climate crisis on Wednesday, making it the most ambitious U.S. effort to fight off the worst effects of climate change.
Mr. Biden said that his administration’s plan is tackling the threat “with a greater sense of urgency.” The order’s signed by the President target federal subsidies for oil and other fossil fuels along with halting new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters.
“In my view, we’ve already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis. We can’t wait any longer. We see it with our own eyes we feel it. We know it in our bones. And it’s time to act,” Biden said.
The executive actions will direct the federal government to upgrade climate change to a national security priority and conserve around 30 percent federal land and water by 2030. The signed orders will also create a commission focused on environmental justice and green jobs and and convene a climate summit of world leaders on Earth Day.
The President 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.
Mr. Biden’s plan is aimed at slowing human-caused global warming, but may also carry a risk politically with oil- and coal-producing states facing lose jobs in favor of the President’s move to reliance on clean energy such as wind and solar power.
“When I think of climate change and the answers to it, I think of jobs,” Biden said. “We’re going to put people to work. We’re not going to lose jobs. These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams. These are concrete actionable solutions. And we know how to do this.”
U.S. special climate envoy John Kerry also said the United States plans to announce a target for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 under the Paris climate accord before the climate summit in April.
Republicans quickly responded, criticizing the plan as a job killer.
“Pie-in-the-sky government mandates and directives that restrict our mining, oil, and gas industries adversely impact our energy security and independence,” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said. “At a time when millions are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the last thing Americans need is big government destroying jobs, while costing the economy billions of dollars.”
Former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris climate accord, opened more public lands to coal, gas and oil production and weakened regulation on fossil fuel emissions. Experts have said the emissions are leading to worsening floods, droughts and other natural disasters.