Lillian O'Boyle

When it comes to balancing the urgency and the cost of fighting climate change, President Trump and former VP Joe Biden favor different approaches. Trump and the majority of Republicans favor deregulation, reducing protections on the environment, and opening up lands for development. Biden and the Democratic party generally favor preserving protections for public land and increasing efforts to go carbon-neutral.

Climate change and action, explained: Trump vs. Biden

Obama Administration Important Climate Milestones  (details obtained from obamawhitehousearchives.com)

  • Reduced the federal government’s emissions by 17 percent
  • Created standards for greenhouse gases like methane and carbon in the private sector
  • In 2015, he led the U.S. initiative to join the Paris Agreement 
  • Set standards for appliances, cutting consumer’s electricity bills by hundreds of billions of dollars
  • Set standards for fuel of passenger vehicles to make them more energy and cost efficient by 2025

Biden’s Plan

  • Promise $2 trillion dollars toward incentivizing union jobs, electric vehicles, and carbon-less energy
  • Reach net zero emissions by 2050, which means all man-​made greenhouse gas emissions must be removed from the atmosphere through reduction measures; aims for power sector to be carbon neutral by 2035
  • Establish an office for the environment and climate in the justice department
  • Plans to give those in communities most affected by pollution (often communities of minorities and of lower economic status) direct involvement with the Justice Department to coordinate cleanup efforts
  • Rebuild the electric grid, roads and bridges

Trump’s track record (details obtained from insideclimatenews.org)

  • In 2017, Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 Paris Agreement, an international climate accord, claiming unfair economic burdens imposed on American workers, businesses and taxpayers.
  • On Oct. 1, 2020, he repealed Obama’s restriction on methane leaks
  • Put people with ties to the fossil fuel industry in charge of environmental regulations
  • Opened up an arctic wildlife refuge to drilling for oil and natural gas
  • Ordered the EPA to discontinue data collection from oil and gas companies in March 2017
  • Signed the 2018 Save Our Seas Act, for American participation in cleaning up debris in the oceans
  • He told reporters “I don’t believe it. No, no, I don’t believe it,” regarding Nov. 2018 National Climate Assessment

Trump’s Campaign/Plans for the future

  • His campaign doesn’t directly mention climate action a lot so it’s based off what his people have said
  • He favors oil, coal, and natural gas companies
  • He wants to build more pipelines to continue growing that industry
  • He wants to join together with other countries to clean up the oceans

At a glance:

It’s a fact that climate change poses an existential threat to all life on Earth. Because this is a time sensitive matter that could have catastrophic effects if not dealt with properly, it’s important to be informed when electing leaders who will ultimately have a very large say in what gets done involving this issue and how. 

Over the past four years, the Trump administration has rolled back over 125 environmental protection measures. In June of 2015, Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. In March of 2017, he ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to discontinue the collection of data from oil and gas companies. Over the summer he finalized plans to open up the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to drilling of oil and natural gas. And most recently, on Oct. 1 of this year, he repealed the restriction on methane leaks Obama put into place during his time in office. Despite all this, he did sign the 2018 Save Our Seas Act for American participation in cleaning up debris in the world’s oceans.

Trump’s plan for climate action if re-elected has not been formally and clearly presented. His campaign platform doesn’t actually mention climate action, so the Wire’s reporting is based off what his team has said in regards to climate action in the future. He wants to continue building pipelines for more access to oil and gas. Given his history of favoring coal, oil and gas industries, this is not surprising. Although, he does want to continue to join together with other countries to clean the oceans of plastic pollution.

While Joe Biden was never actually president, the Obama administration’s handling of climate change is very telling about Joe Biden’s beliefs toward the subject. The administration cut the federal government’s carbon emissions by 17 percent during their time in office along with creating standards for greenhouse gas emissions in the private sector. They got the United States involved in the Paris Climate Accords and set standards for appliances which cut consumer’s electric bills by hundred of billions of dollars as well as set standards for the fuel of passenger vehicles to make them more energy and cost efficient by 2025.

Joe Biden’s plan to address climate change if elected is the most drastic of any president.  Overall, it would cost $2 trillion toward incentivising union jobs, electric vehicles and energy without carbon. The plan is have the power sector become carbon neutral by 2035 with net zero emissions as a country by 2050. This plan also involves establishing an office of environment and climate in the justice department and to give communities most affected by pollution direct involvement with that office of the justice department. He plans to rebuild the electric grid, roads and bridges along with a national zero emission mass transit system in every city with a population of more than 100 thousand people.

In casting a ballot, the priorities of the individual voter must be considered. While under the Trump administration there will be fewer taxes, the ongoing environmental crisis will continue to be ignored. While Biden’s plan will raise taxes for those who make more than $400,000, climate change would be dealt with. In the end, the matter comes down to the priorities of the individual. 

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