What should President Joe Biden do?

by Lorenzo Nericcio, Newsletter Editor

Biden and Harris won the presidency in November—but the question remains, what should they prioritize? The first 100 days are often a significant legislative period for a new president, and in this case, they promise to be even more so. That’s because Democrats recently retook the Senate when Raphael Warnock and Jon Osoff each won their runoff elections in Georgia, unseating two incumbent Republicans. They also kept the House after the November elections.

What’s more, the recent rightwing insurrection in the Capitol has heightened many Americans’ sense that some good must be done for the country soon. Democrats have a mandate and ample reason to use it fully. 

At SanDiego350, we understand that one of the most pressing concerns the US (and the world) currently faces is the threat of unmitigated climate change. If the COVID-19 pandemic has been any indication of our ability to deal with a global collective action problem, it’s clear that there is a lot of room for improvement. 

We’ve put together a list of demands that we hope the Biden administration will satisfy. Biden has campaigned firmly on a platform of climate action, and we shouldn’t settle for anything less than immediate and comprehensive dedication to addressing the dangers climate change poses. 

We also strongly encourage our readers to use the graphics linked here to post their own demands on the Biden administration. Let us help you have your voice heard. 

Here is what we demand:

  1. Rejoin the Paris Agreement. Famously, Donald Trump exited from the Paris Agreement. Biden’s administration should prioritize rejoining it, and meeting or beating its goals. 
  2. Stop new drilling on public lands and phase out all existing drilling. While ending drilling on private land may take more time, the federal government can put a stop to public lands drilling whenever it wants. 
  3. Create a cabinet-level environmental justice position. Climate change isn’t just an ecological disaster; it’s a human justice catastrophe, too. Biden’s administration needs professionals working on this dimension. 
  4. Buy only renewable energy for the federal government. The federal government should lead by example, powering its operations entirely through renewable energy. 
  5. End fossil fuel subsidies. This is a no-brainer—the government should be subsidising clean power, not fossil fuels. 
  6. Deny new fossil fuel infrastructure permits and rescind those for Keystone XL and Line 3. The destruction of sacred Indigenous lands and precious ecosystems for the sake of oil company profits must end. 
  7. Investigate and prosecute fossil fuel polluters. Fossil fuel polluters have known about the effects of their industry for decades. They should be held accountable. 
  8. Adopt and exceed California’s emissions standards. Trump eliminated federal emissions standards that had been built to mirror California’s. It’s time to readopt them and exceed them. 
  9. Create a national renewable energy standard that reaches 100% renewables by 2035. The time for incremental transitions is long past. We need an aggressive transition to renewables if we want to avoid the worst of climate change. 
  10. Establish a carbon tax to fund renewable infrastructure, transit, and green affordable housing. A carbon tax could be one of the most effective ways to incentivise and fund a transition from fossil fuels to clean power across the board. 

These changes won’t totally end our reliance on fossil fuel—much less end the threat of climate change—but they can significantly improve our course, and Biden and Harris can get started on them on day 1. You can start by signing 350.org’s online petition demanding these changes. Then, use our cards to make your own set of demands to share on social media.

About Masada D

Masada Disenhouse co-founded SanDiego350 in 2011 and serves as its Executive Director. She is passionate about engaging volunteers and growing a powerful climate change movement.

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