Joe Biden promises climate action as heatwave hits
Washington, Jul 21: US President Joe Biden unveiled a series of executive measures on Wednesday to combat climate change and pledged there was more to follow.
Biden is seeking to push ahead with his environmental agenda after a previous effort was stalled by unsupportive lawmakers and a conservative Supreme Court.
The move comes as rocketing summer temperatures mean that some 100 million people in the United States are living under excessive heat alerts. Europe is also struggling with unusually high temperatures.
What did the president say?
Biden delivered a speech announcing the measures at a former coal-fired electricity plant in Massachusetts, and said his administration would do whatever necessary, with or without the support of lawmakers.
He said climate change represented "literally an existential threat to our nation and to the world" and that Congress was not acting as it should.
"I said last week, and I say it again loud and clear: As president, I'll use my executive powers to combat ... the climate crisis in the absence of congressional action."
"In the coming weeks, I'm going to use the power I have as president to turn these words into formal, official government actions through the appropriate proclamations, executive orders and regulatory powers that a president possesses."
My message today is loud and clear: Since Congress is not acting on the climate emergency, I will.— President Biden (@POTUS) July 20, 2022
And in the coming weeks my Administration will begin to announce executive actions to combat this emergency.
However, Biden stopped short of calling an official emergency, a move that would afford him additional policy powers.
What are the measures?
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is to provide $2.3 billion (€2.26 billion) in funding to help states "increase resilience to heat waves, drought, wildfires, flood, hurricanes, and other hazards by preparing before disaster strikes."
New funding could improve flood control, strengthen utilities, retrofit buildings, and help low-income families pay for cooling costs.
The White House also announced support for the domestic offshore wind industry, with large swaths of the Gulf of Mexico identified as areas for possible offshore wind energy development.
What's Biden's record on climate action?
Since Biden started in office promising to fulfill campaign pledges to tackle the global climate crisis, his agenda has faced repeated setbacks.
On his first day in office, the president signed an executive order to return the US to the Paris climate agreement.
That was followed later by an ambitious announcement that he was seeking a 50-52% reduction from 2005 levels in US net greenhouse gas pollution by 2030.
However, Biden's signature Build Back Better legislation — which would have seen some $550 billion channeled into clean energy and other climate initiatives — appears doomed after it failed to receive the necessary backing in Congress.
In an evenly divided House, Democrat Joe Manchin said he would not support the bill, quashing hopes for sweeping change.
Last month, the US Supreme Court ruled that the federal government did not have broad authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.