Our Response to President Biden's Climate Agenda (by Annika Johnson)
Updated: May 5, 2021
At FXB, we feel that the climate goals Biden has set, including net zero emissions by 2050 and a carbon-free power grid by 2035, as well as the methods he hopes to pursue, such as cutting fossil fuel subsidies, investing in clean energy, and developing green infrastructure, are important and admirable. However, we believe that where Biden has not yet gone far enough is in committing to concrete steps by which he will reach these goals. In recent years, the Democratic Party has been quick to make big promises and set impressive climate goals, but they have struggled to follow through. According to Vox, the US is not yet on track to reach its previous emissions goal, much less the new, more ambitious one that Biden set on Earth Day. Furthermore, even the government’s current climate goal is not drastic enough to keep temperature rise below 1.5°C. Thus, the Biden administration must be much clearer about how divestment and a transition to clean energy will be achieved so that the public can rest assured that these goals are not empty promises.
One specific step that FXB greatly encourages is the implementation of a carbon tax and/or other regulations limiting companies’ greenhouse gas emissions. America’s corporations have repeatedly proven to the public that they prioritize profit over climate, and without economic incentives to reduce emissions, polluting companies will not do so. A carbon tax would help facilitate a transition to clean energy as companies would be encouraged to seek out clean solutions for their economic benefit. A carbon tax would also drive the transition to clean energy in that it could be a possible source of funding for the development of green infrastructure.
Young people have many opportunities to contribute to the larger goals of the Biden administration and the climate movement as a whole. We believe that youth should focus on advocating for changes that align with these goals on a local level. For example, a major change, like switching to a decarbonized power grid, cannot be achieved by sweeping regulations or legislation alone, but requires concrete, local level changes, contributing to a larger transformation of the economy. One advocacy step for young people could be to research the sources for their town/city energy grids, and to reach out to local officials about seeking out cleaner energy sources. They could suggest plans that set a goal for when the power grid will rely completely on clean energy, and the increments by which the local government could reach this goal. Another possible action is for students to research whether their private school or college endowments or state pension funds are invested in fossil fuels. Divestment is crucial to a transition to clean energy, and young people can contact administrators or state officials about the possibility of investing in sustainable stocks instead. As the economic viability of fossil fuel investment has come into question, the argument for sustainable investments has grown stronger.
Overall, young people have the opportunity to contribute to the goals of the Biden administration and push for more ambitious objectives, both of which are crucial to the advancement of the climate movement and the protection of the planet.