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Biden Signs Executive Orders to Tackle Climate Change, Create Jobs: ‘Climate change will be at the center of our national security and foreign policy’

Solar array on a farm in Finger Lakes, New York (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

‘It’s about jobs — good-paying union jobs.  It’s about workers building our economy back better than before.  It’s a whole-of-government approach to put climate change at the center of our domestic, national security, and foreign policy.  It’s advancing conservation; revitalizing communities and cities and on the farmlands; and securing environmental justice.’

President Joe Biden equated Climate Day with Jobs Day at the White House because he knows that confronting this existential crisis is also about jobs that will build a sustainable future. Think about it: workers populated Pennsylvania and West Virginia when technology was invented to turn coal into fuel; workers flooded Texas and Oklahoma when oil was discovered. Now we need new sources of energy to replace these archaic, destructive technologies and will redeploy those workers, re-purpose those sites and develop new industries. Long Island will lead a new off-shore wind industry, other places – including farmers and ranchers – will turn their land into a new source of wealth with solar panels and windmills.

Today, President Biden signed executive actions to treat the need to tackle climate change as the national security threat it is, while at the same time countering the Republican claim of a zero-sum game that climate action will cost jobs rather than create millions of jobs. And after Republican presidents and administrations did all they could to erase “climate change” from mission statements, agencies and policies, Biden signed an executive order restoring scientific integrity.

Here are President Biden’s remarks, highlighted: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Today is “Climate Day” at the White House which means that today is “Jobs Day” at the White House.  We’re talking about American innovation, American products, American labor.  And we’re talking about the health of our families and cleaner water, cleaner air, and cleaner communities.  We’re talking about national security and America leading the world in a clean energy future.

It’s a future of enormous hope and opportunity.  It’s about coming to the moment to deal with this maximum threat that we — that’s now facing us — climate change — with a greater sense of urgency.  In my view, we’ve already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis and 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. 

And I might note, parenthetically: If you notice, the attitude of the American people toward greater impetus on focusing on climate change and doing something about it has increased across the board — Democrat, Republican, independent. 

That’s why I’m signing today an executive order to supercharge our administration ambitious plan to confront the existential threat of climate change.  And it is an existential threat. 

Last year, wildfires burned more than 5,000 acres in the West — as no one knows better than the Vice President, a former Senator from California — an area roughly the size of the entire state of New Jersey.  More intense and powerful hurricanes and tropical storms pummeled states across the Gulf Coast and along the East Coast — I can testify to that, from Delaware.  Historic floods, severe droughts have ravaged the Midwest.  More Americans see and feel the devastation in big cities, small towns, coastlines, and in farmlands, in red states and blue states.  And the Defense Department reported that climate change is a direct threat to more than two thirds of the military’s operational critical installations.  Two thirds.  And so this could — we could — this could well be on the conservative side. 

Record heat caussd by climate change contributed to record wildfires in California (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And many climate and health calamities are colliding all at once.  It’s not just the pandemic that keeps people inside; it’s poor air quality.  Multiple studies have shown that air pollution is associated with an increased risk of death from COVID-19.  And just like we need a unified national response to COVID-19, we desperately need a unified national response to the climate crisis because there is a climate crisis. 

We must lead global response because neither challenge can be met, as Secretary Kerry has pointed out many times, by the United States alone.  We know what to do, we’ve just got to do it. 

When we think of climate change, we think of it — this is a case where conscious and convenience cross paths, where dealing with this existential threat to the planet and increasing our economic growth and prosperity are one in the same.  When I think of climate change, I think of — and the answers to it — I think of jobs. 

A key plank of our Build Back Better Recovery Plan is building a modern, resilient climate infrastructure and clean energy future that will create millions of good-paying union jobs — not 7, 8, 10, 12 dollars an hour, but prevailing wage and benefits. 

You know, we can put millions of Americans to work modernizing our water systems, transportation, our energy infrastructure to withstand the impacts of extreme climate.  We’ve already reached a point where we’re going to have to live with what it is now.  That’s going to require a lot of work all by itself, without it getting any worse. 

When we think of renewable energy, we see American manufacturing, American workers racing to lead the global market.  We see farmers making American agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions and gaining new sources of income in the process.

And I want to parenthetically thank the Secretary of Agriculture for helping to put together that program during the campaign. 

We see small business and master electricians designing, installing, and innovating energy-conserving technologies and building homes and buildings.  And we’re going to reduce electric consumption and save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in energy costs in the process.

And when the previous administration reversed the Obama-Biden vehicle standard and picked Big Oil companies over American workers, the Biden-Harris administration will not only bring those standards back, we’ll set new, ambitious ones that our workers are ready to meet.

We see these workers building new buildings, installing 500,000 new electric vehicle charging stations across the country as we modernize our highway systems to adapt to the changes that have already taken place.  We see American consumers switching to electric vehicles through rebates and incentives, and the residents of our cities and towns breathing cleaner air, and fewer kids living with asthma and dying from it.

And not only that, the federal government owns and maintains an enormous fleet of vehicles, as you all know.  With today’s executive order, combined with the Buy American executive order I signed on Monday, we’re going to harness the purchasing power of the federal government to buy clean, zero-emission vehicles that are made and sourced by union workers right here in America.

With everything I just mentioned, this will mean one million new jobs in the American automobile industry.  One million.  And we’ll do another thing: We’ll take steps towards my goal of achieving 100 percent carbon-pollution-free electric sector by 2035Transforming the American electric sector to produce power without carbon pollution will be a tremendous spur to job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st century, not to mention the benefits to our health and to our environment. 

Already, 84 percent of all new electric capacity planned to come onto the electric grid this is year is clean energy.  Clean energy.  Why?  Because it’s affordable; because it’s clean; because, in many cases, it’s cheaper.  And it’s the way we’re keeping up — they’re keeping up.  We’re going to need scientists, the national labs, land-grant universities, historical black colleges and universities to innovate the technologies needed to generate, store, and transmit clean electric — clean electricity across distances, and battery technology, and a whole range of other things.

We need engineers to design them and workers to manufacture them.  We need iron workers and welders to install them.  Technologies they invent, design, and build will ultimately become cheaper than any other kind of energy, helping us dramatically expand our economy and create more jobs with a cleaner, cleaner environment.  And we’ll become the world’s largest exporter of those technologies, creating even more jobs. 

Homes have to be rebuilt after hurricanes and superstorms like Sandy which decimated the coastal community of Breezy Point, Long Island (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

You know, we are also — we’re going to build 1.5 million new energy-efficient homes and public housing units that are going to benefit communities three times over: one, by alleviating the affordable housing crisis; two, by increasing energy efficiency; and, three, by reducing the racial wealth gap linked to home ownership.

We’re also going to create more than a quarter million jobs to do things like plug the millions of abandoned oil and gas wells that pose an ongoing threat to the health and safety of our communities.  They’re abandoned wells that are open now, and we’re going to put people to work.  They’re not going to lose jobs in these areas; they’re going to create jobs.  They’re going to get prevailing wage to cap those over a million wells.  These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams.  These are concrete, actionable solutions, and we know how to do this.

The Obama-Biden administration rescued the auto industry and helped them retool.  We need solar energy cost-competitive with traditional energy, weatherizing more — we made them cost-competitive, weatherizing more than a million homes.

The Recovery Act of our administration — the Democratic administration –made record clean energy investments: $90 billion.  The President asked me to make sure how that money was spent, on everything from smart grid systems to clean energy manufacturing.

Now, the Biden-Harris administration is going to do it again and go beyond.  The executive order I’ll be signing establishes a White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy.  And it’ll be led by one of America’s most distinguished climate leaders, former EPA Director Gina McCarthy.  As the head of the new office and my National Climate Advisor, Gina will chair a National Climate Task Force, made up of many members of our Cabinet, to deliver a whole-of-government approach to the climate crisis.

This is not time for small measures; we need to be bold.  So, let me be clear: That includes helping revitalize the economies of coal, oil, and gas, and power plant communities.  We have to start by creating new, good-paying jobs, capping those abandoned wells, reclaiming mines, turning old brownfield sites into new hubs of economic growth, creating new, good-paying jobs in those communities where those workers live because they helped build this country.

Shuttered steel mill, Bethlehem, PA, built to be near coal (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We’re never going to forget the men and women who dug the coal and built the nation.  We’re going to do right by them and make sure they have opportunities to keep building the nation and their own communities and getting paid well for it.

While the whole-of-government approach is necessary, though, it’s not sufficient.  We’re going to work with mayors and governors and tribal leaders and business leaders who are stepping up, and the young people organizing and leading the way.  My message to those young people is: You have the full capacity and power of the federal government.  Your government is going to work with you. 

Now, today’s executive order also directs the Secretary of the Interior to stop issuing new oil and gas leases on public lands and offshore waters, wherever possible.  We’re going to review and reset the oil and gas leasing program…We’re going to start to properly manage lands and waterways in ways that allow us to protect, preserve them — the full value that they provide for us for future generations. 

Let me be clear, and I know this always comes up: We’re not going to ban fracking.  We’ll protect jobs and grow jobs, including through stronger standards, like controls from methane leaks and union workers in — willing to install the changes. 

Unlike previous administrations, I don’t think the federal government should give handouts to big oil to the tune of $40 billion in fossil fuel subsidies.  And I’m going to be going to the Congress asking them to eliminate those subsidies.

Wind turbines in California (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We’re going to take money and invest it in clean energy jobs in Americamillions of jobs in wind, solar, and carbon capture.  In fact, today’s actions are going to help us increase renewable energy production from offshore wind and meet our obligation to be good stewards of our public lands. 

It establishes a new, modern-day Civilian Climate Corps — that I called for when I was campaigning — to heal our public lands and make us less vulnerable to wildfires and floods.

Look, this executive order I’m signing today also makes it official that climate change will be at the center of our national security and foreign policy. 

As Secretary Kerry — as our Special Presidential Envoy for Climate — with him, the world knows how serious I am about one of America’s — by appointing one of America’s most distinguished statesmen and one of my closest friends, speaking for America on one of the most pressing threats of our time.  John was instrumental in negotiating the Paris Climate Agreement that we started to — that we rejoined — this administration rejoined on day one, as I promised.

And today’s executive order will help strengthen that commitment by working with other nations to support the most vulnerable to the impact of climate change and to increase our collective resilience.  That includes a summit of world leaders that I’ll convene to address this climate crisis on Earth Day, this year.

In order to establish a new effort to integrate the security implications of climate change as part of our national security and risk assessment and analysis will also be included.

With this executive order, environmental justice will be at the center of all we do addressing the disproportionate health and environmental and economic impacts on communities of color — so-called “fenceline communities” — especially those communities — brown, black, Native American, poor whites.  It’s the hard-hit areas like Cancer Alley in Louisiana, or the Route 9 corridor in the state of Delaware. 

That’s why we’re going to work to make sure that they receive 40 percent of the benefits of key federal investments in clean energy, clean water, and wastewater infrastructureLifting up these communities makes us all stronger as a nation and increases the health of everybody.

Finally, as with our fight against COVID-19, we will listen to the science and protect the integrity of our federal response to the climate crisis.

Earlier this month, I nominated Dr. Eric Lander, a brilliant scientist who is here today, to be the Director of the Office of Science and Technology.  I also nominated another brilliant scientist, Dr. Frances Arnold and Dr. Maria Zuber, to co-chair the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology — so-called “PCAST” — that President Eisenhower started six weeks after the launch of Sputnik.

It’s a team of America’s top scientists charged with asking the most American of questions: “What next?  What’s the next big breakthrough?”  And then helping us make the impossible possible. 

Today, I’m signing a presidential memorandum making it clear that we will protect our world-class scientists from political interference and ensure they can think, research, and speak freely and directly to me, the Vice President, and the American people.

To summarize, this executive order — it’s about jobs — good-paying union jobs.  It’s about workers building our economy back better than before.  It’s a whole-of-government approach to put climate change at the center of our domestic, national security, and foreign policy.  It’s advancing conservation; revitalizing communities and cities and in the fa– on the farmlands; and securing environmental justice.

Our plans are ambitious, but we are America.  We’re bold.  We are unwavering in the pursuit of jobs and innovation, science and discovery.  We can do this, we must do this, and we will do this.

See:  FACT SHEET: BIDEN EXECUTIVE ACTIONS TO TACKLE CLIMATE CRISIS, CREATE JOBS, RESTORE SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY ACROSS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

FACT SHEET: Biden Executive Actions to Tackle Climate Crisis, Create Jobs, Restore Scientific Integrity Across Federal Government

Windfarm in California. President Biden sees the transformation from carbon to renewable energy as not just essential for national security, but for economic prosperity and jobs (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Biden-Harris Administration Commits on Climate Change – Creating Jobs, Building Infrastructure, and Delivering Environmental Justice

President Biden took executive action to tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad while creating good-paying union jobs and equitable clean energy future, building modern and sustainable infrastructure, restoring scientific integrity and evidence-based policymaking across the federal government, and re-establishing the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

These Executive Orders follow through on President Biden’s promise to take aggressive action to tackle climate change and build on the executive actions that the President took on his first day in office, including rejoining the Paris Agreement and immediate review of harmful rollbacks of standards that protect our air, water, and communities.

President Biden set ambitious goals that will ensure America and the world can meet the urgent demands of the climate crisis, while empowering American workers and businesses to lead a clean energy revolution that achieves a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and puts the United States on an irreversible path to a net-zero economy by 2050. Today’s actions advance those goals and ensure that we are tapping into the talent, grit, and innovation of American workers, revitalizing the U.S. energy sector, conserving our natural resources and leveraging them to help drive our nation toward a clean energy future, creating well-paying jobs with the opportunity to join a union, and delivering justice for communities who have been subjected to environmental harm.

President Biden also signed an important Presidential Memorandum on scientific integrity to send a clear message that the Biden-Harris Administration will protect scientists from political interference and ensure they can think, research, and speak freely to provide valuable information and insights to the American people. Additionally, and in line with the scientific-integrity memorandum’s charge to reestablish scientific advisory committees, President Biden signed an Executive Order re-establishing the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

TACKLING THE CLIMATE CRISIS AT HOME AND ABROAD EXECUTIVE ORDER

Today’s Executive Order takes bold steps to combat the climate crisis both at home and throughout the world. In signing this Executive Order, President Biden has directed his Administration to:

Center the Climate Crisis in U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security Considerations

The order clearly establishes climate considerations as an essential element of U.S. foreign policy and national security. 

The order affirms that, in implementing – and building on – the Paris Agreement’s objectives, the United States will exercise its leadership to promote a significant increase in global ambition. It makes clear that both significant short-term global emission reductions and net zero global emissions by mid-century – or before – are required to avoid setting the world on a dangerous, potentially catastrophic, climate trajectory. 

The order reaffirms that the President will host a Leaders’ Climate Summit on Earth Day, April 22, 2021; that the United States will reconvene the Major Economies Forum; that, to underscore the administration’s commitment to elevating climate in U.S. foreign policy, the President has created a new position, the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, which will have a seat on the National Security Council, and that it will be a U.S. priority to press for enhanced climate ambition and integration of climate considerations across a wide range of international fora.

The order also kicks off the process of developing the United States’ “nationally determined contribution” – our emission reduction target – under the Paris Agreement, as well as a climate finance plan.

Among numerous other steps aimed at prioritizing climate in U.S. foreign policy and national security, the order directs the Director of National Intelligence to prepare a National Intelligence Estimate on the security implications of climate change, the State Department to prepare a transmittal package to the Senate for the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, and all agencies to develop strategies for integrating climate considerations into their international work.

Take a Whole-of-Government Approach to the Climate Crisis

The order formally establishes the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy – led by the first-ever National Climate Advisor and Deputy National Climate Advisor – creating a central office in the White House that is charged with coordinating and implementing the President’s domestic climate agenda.

The order establishes the National Climate Task Force, assembling leaders from across 21 federal agencies and departments to enable a whole-of-government approach to combatting the climate crisis.

Leverage the Federal Government’s Footprint and Buying Power to Lead by Example

Consistent with the goals of the President’s Build Back Better jobs and economic recovery plan, of which his clean energy jobs plan is a central pillar, the order directs the federal agencies to procure carbon pollution-free electricity and clean, zero-emission vehicles to create good-paying, union jobs and stimulate clean energy industries.

In addition, the order requires those purchases be Made in America, following President Biden’s Buy American executive order. The order also directs agencies to apply and strictly enforce the prevailing wage and benefit guidelines of the Davis Bacon and other acts and encourage Project Labor Agreements. These actions reaffirm that agencies should work to ensure that any jobs created with funds to address the climate crisis are good jobs with a choice to join a union.

The order directs each federal agency to develop a plan to increase the resilience of its facilities and operations to the impacts of climate change and directs relevant agencies to report on ways to expand and improve climate forecast capabilities – helping facilitate public access to climate related information and assisting governments, communities, and businesses in preparing for and adapting to the impacts of climate change.

The order directs the Secretary of the Interior to pause on entering into new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or offshore waters to the extent possible, launch a rigorous review of all existing leasing and permitting practices related to fossil fuel development on public lands and waters, and identify steps that can be taken to double renewable energy production from offshore wind by 2030. The order does not restrict energy activities on lands that the United States holds in trust for Tribes. The Secretary of the Interior will continue to consult with Tribes regarding the development and management of renewable and conventional energy resources, in conformance with the U.S. government’s trust responsibilities.

The order directs federal agencies to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies as consistent with applicable law and identify new opportunities to spur innovation, commercialization, and deployment of clean energy technologies and infrastructure. 

Rebuild Our Infrastructure for a Sustainable Economy

The order catalyzes the creation of jobs in construction, manufacturing, engineering and the skilled-trades by directing steps to ensure that every federal infrastructure investment reduces climate pollution and that steps are taken to accelerate clean energy and transmission projects under federal siting and permitting processes in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Advance Conservation, Agriculture, and Reforestation

The order commits to the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and oceans by 2030 and launches a process for stakeholder engagement from agricultural and forest landowners, fishermen, Tribes, States, Territories, local officials, and others to identify strategies that will result in broad participation. 

The order also calls for the establishment of a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative to put a new generation of Americans to work conserving and restoring public lands and waters, increasing reforestation, increasing carbon sequestration in the agricultural sector, protecting biodiversity, improving access to recreation, and addressing the changing climate.

The order directs the Secretary of Agriculture to collect input from farmers, ranchers, and other stakeholders on how to use federal programs to encourage adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices that produce verifiable carbon reductions and sequestrations and create new sources of income and jobs for rural Americans.

Revitalize Energy Communities

The order establishes an Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization, to be co-chaired by the National Climate Advisor and the Director of the National Economic Council, and directs federal agencies to coordinate investments and other efforts to assist coal, oil and natural gas, and power plant communities. 

The order tasks the new Interagency Working Group to advance projects that reduce emissions of toxic substances and greenhouse gases from existing and abandoned infrastructure and that prevent environmental damage that harms communities and poses a risk to public health and safety – such as projects to reduce methane emissions, oil and brine leaks, and other environmental harms from tens of thousands of former mining and well sites.

In addition, the new Interagency Working Group is also directed to explore efforts to turn properties idled in these communities, like brownfields, into new hubs for the growth of our economy.

Secure Environmental Justice and Spur Economic Opportunity

The order formalizes President Biden’s commitment to make environmental justice a part of the mission of every agency by directing federal agencies to develop programs, policies, and activities to address the disproportionate health, environmental, economic, and climate impacts on disadvantaged communities.

The order establishes a White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council and a White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council to prioritize environmental justice and ensure a whole-of-government approach to addressing current and historical environmental injustices, including strengthening environmental justice monitoring and enforcement through new or strengthened offices at the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Justice, and Department of Health and Human Services.  The new bodies are also tasked with advising on ways to update Executive Order 12898 of February 11, 1994.

The order creates a government-wide Justice40 Initiative with the goal of delivering 40 percent of the overall benefits of relevant federal investments to disadvantaged communities and tracks performance toward that goal through the establishment of an Environmental Justice Scorecard.

The order initiates the development of a Climate and Environmental Justice Screening Tool, building off EPA’s EJSCREEN, to identify disadvantaged communities, support the Justice40 Initiative, and inform equitable decision making across the federal government

SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY PRESIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM

The Presidential Memorandum on Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking directs agencies to make evidence-based decisions guided by the best available science and data. Scientific and technological information, data, and evidence are central to the development and iterative improvement of sound policies, and to the delivery of effective and equitable programs. Improper political interference in the scientific process, with the work of scientists, and in the communication of scientific facts undermines the welfare of the nation, contributes to systemic inequities and injustices, and violates the public trust.

The memorandum charges the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) with the responsibility for ensuring scientific integrity across federal agencies. The OSTP Director is directed to review the effectiveness of agency scientific-integrity policies and assess agency scientific-integrity policies and practices going forward.

In addition, agencies that oversee, direct, or fund research are tasked with designating a senior agency employee as Chief Science Officer to ensure agency research programs are scientifically and technologically well founded and conducted with integrity. Because science, facts, and evidence are vital to addressing policy and programmatic issues across the Federal Government, all agencies – not just those that fund, conduct, or oversee scientific research –must designate a senior career employee as the agency’s Scientific Integrity Official to oversee implementation and iterative improvement of scientific-integrity policies and processes.

EXECUTIVE ORDER ESTABLISHING THE PRESIDENT’S COUNCIL OF ADVISORS ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Leaders across the Biden-Harris Administration, including the President himself and his senior advisors in the Executive Office of the President, will seek input, advice, and the best-available science, data, and scientific and technological information from scientists, engineers, and other experts in science, technology, and innovation.

To that end, and in alignment with the scientific-integrity memorandum’s charge to reestablish scientific and technological advisory committees, this order re-establishes the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). The PCAST– co-chaired by the President’s Science Advisor – will advise the President on policy that affects science, technology, and innovation. The Council will also advise the President on scientific and technical information that is needed to inform public policy relating to the economy, worker empowerment, education, energy, environment, public health, national and homeland security, racial equity, and other topics.

Biden Announces his Team to Beat the Climate Crisis

President-Elect Joe Biden introducing his Climate team:We are committed to facing climate change by delivering environmental justice. These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams. These are concrete, actionable solutions. And this team will get them done.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Each one a person of remarkable achievement, who lifted themselves up, sometimes from abject poverty; several were the first in their family to go to college, several were immigrants or children of immigrants, and one is a 35th generation Pueblo Indian, the first Native American to lead the Interior Department which historically ruled over Indian lands and routinely violated treaties. The nominees and appointees to key climate and environmental positions are the incarnation of President-Elect Joe Biden’s campaign promises, specifically, the first administration to elevating climate and environmental protection to this level and priority.

As Biden said, like his other cabinet picks, these climate, energy and environment nominees and appointees are brilliant, qualified and tested, and barrier-busting, precedent-breaking, historic, “a cabinet that looks like America, that taps into the best of America.”

The  contrast to Trump, who declared climate change a “hoax” and whose priorities – to overturn the climate action and environmental protection initiatives of the Obama-Biden administration and elevate to top positions lobbyists and executives from gas, oil, and mining industries, people of privilege and wealth – could not be more stark.

Clean energy, resilient infrastructure, sustainable agriculture and development, are the building blocks to Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan that will employ millions in new jobs and enterprises and keep the United States competitive with the rest of the world. “When we think about climate change, we think jobs.”

Electric cars – incentivized with purchase for the federal fleet – will mean one million auto industry jobs; transforming the electricity sector to being carbon-free “will be the greatest spur to job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st Century, not to mention the benefits to our health and our environment.”

He added, “And we are committed to facing climate change by delivering environmental justice. 

“These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams. These are concrete, actionable solutions. And this team will get them done.”

Biden introduced his nominees:

Secretary of the Interior, Congresswoman Deb Haaland.
Secretary of Energy, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm.

Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality Michael Regan

Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, environmental lawyer Brenda Mallory

National Climate Advisor and head of the newly formed White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

Deputy National Climate Advisor, Ali Zaidi.

These nominees – as throughout Biden’s cabinet – are notable for their story and the values their background forged.

Here are their remarks, highlighted: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Remarks by President-elect Joe Biden

Today I am pleased to announce the team that will lead my Administration’s ambitious plan to address an existential threat of our time — climate change.

Like their fellow-Cabinet nominees and appointments, members of our environment and energy team are brilliant, qualified and tested, and barrier-busting.

With today’s announcements there will be six African American members of our Cabinet. 

A record.

After today, our Cabinet won’t just have one or two precedent-breaking appointments, but 12 —including today’s long-overdue appointment of the first Native American Cabinet Secretary.

Already there are more people of color in this Cabinet than any Cabinet ever. More women than ever.

The Biden-Harris Cabinet will be an historic Cabinet.

A Cabinet that looks like America. 

That taps into the best of America.

That opens doors and includes the full range of talents we have in this nation.

And like the rest of the team, today’s nominees are ready on Day One, which is essential because we literally have no time to lose.

Just this year, wildfires burned more than 5 million acres in California, Washington, and across the West — an area roughly the size of the entire state of New Jersey.

Intense and powerful hurricanes and tropical storms pummeled Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, and across the Gulf and along the East Coast. 

Record floods, hurricane-speed windstorms, and severe droughts ravaged the Midwest.

And more Americans see and feel the devastation in big cities and small towns, on coastlines and farmlands, in red states and blue states.

Billions of dollars in damage. Homes and memories washed away. Small businesses closed up for good. Crops and farmlands destroyed for the next generation family farmer.

Just last year, the Defense Department reported that climate change is a direct threat to more than two-thirds of the military’s operationally critical installations. And this could well be a conservative estimate.

And so many climate and health calamities are colliding at once.

It’s not just a pandemic that keeps people inside — it’s poor air quality.

Multiple studies have shown air pollution is associated with an increased risk of death from Covid-19. 

Folks, we’re in a crisis.

Just like we need a unified national response to COVID-19, we need a unified national response to climate change. 
 
We need to meet this moment with the urgency it demands as we would during any national emergency.

And from the crisis, we need to seize the opportunity to build back better than we were before. 
That’s what this Administration will do.

When we think about climate change, we think “jobs.” Good-paying union jobs.

A key plank of our Build Back Better economic plan is building a modern, climate-resilient infrastructure and clean energy future.

We can put millions of Americans to work modernizing water, transportation, and energy infrastructure to withstand the impacts of extreme weather.

When we think about renewable energy, we see American manufacturing, American workers, racing to lead the global market.

We see farmers making American agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions and gaining new sources of income in the process.

We see the small businesses and master electricians designing and installing innovative, energy-conserving buildings and homes. This will reduce electricity consumption and save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in energy costs.

And we will challenge everyone to step up.

We will bring America back into the Paris Agreement and put us back in the business of leading the world on climate change.

The current Administration reversed the Obama-Biden fuel-efficiency standards and picked Big Oil companies over the American workers. Our Administration will not only bring those standards back — we will set new, ambitious ones that our workers are ready to meet.

We see American workers building and installing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the country. 

We see American consumers switching to electric vehicles through rebates and incentives.

Not only that — the federal government owns and maintains an enormous fleet of vehicles. 

And we’re going to harness the purchasing power of our federal government to make sure we are buying clean, electric vehicles that are made and sourced by union workers right here in America.

All together, this will mean one million new jobs in the American auto industry. 

And we’ll do another big thing: put us on a path of achieving a carbon-pollution-free electricity sector by 2035 that no future president can turn back.

Transforming the American electricity sector to produce power without carbon pollution will be the greatest spur to job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st Century, not to mention the benefits to our health and our environment.
 
But we need to get to work right away.
 
We’ll need scientists at national labs, land-grant universities, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to innovate the technologies needed to generate, store, and transmit this clean electricity.
 
We’ll need engineers to design them and workers to manufacture them.

We’ll need ironworkers and welders to install them.

That’s how we’ll become the world’s largest exporter of these technologies, creating even more jobs.

We know how to do this. 

The Obama-Biden Administration rescued the auto industry and helped them retool. 

We made solar energy cost-competitive with traditional energy and weatherized more than a million homes.

The Recovery Act made record clean energy investments — $90 Billion — on everything from smart grid systems to clean energy manufacturing.

We will do it again — bigger, and faster, and better than before.

We’ll also build 1.5 million new energy-efficient homes and public housing units that will benefit our communities three-times over by alleviating the affordable housing crisis, by increasing energy efficiency, and by reducing the racial wealth gap linked to homeownership.

We’ll create more than a quarter-million jobs right away, to do things like working toward plugging the 3.2 million abandoned oil and gas wells that the EPA says pose an ongoing threat to the health and safety of our communities.

We’ll launch a new, modern-day Civilian Climate Corps to heal our public lands and make us less vulnerable to wildfires and floods.

And I believe that every American has a fundamental right to breathe clean air and drink clean water. 

But I know that we haven’t fulfilled that right. No, we haven’t fulfilled that right for a generation or more in places like Cancer Alley in Louisiana or along the Route 9 corridor right here in Delaware.

Fulfilling this basic obligation to all Americans, especially in low-income white, Black, Brown, and Native American communities who too often don’t have clean air and clean water is not going to be easy.

But it is necessary. And we are committed to facing climate change by delivering environmental justice. 

These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams. These are concrete, actionable solutions.

And this team will get them done. 

For Secretary of the Interior, I nominate Congresswoman Deb Haaland.

She’s of the Pueblo people. A 35th-generation New Mexican.

She’s from a military family. Her mom, also Pueblo, served in the United States Navy. Her dad, Norwegian American, a Marine now buried in Arlington.

A single mom, she raised her child while running a small business.

When times were tough, they relied on food stamps.

Congresswoman Haaland graduated from law school and got involved in politics.

Two years ago, she became one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress.

She serves on the Armed Services Committee, and Committee on Natural Resources, and Chairs the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, where she’s earned the respect 
of a broad coalition of people — from tribal leaders to environmental groups to labor. 

As the first Native American Cabinet Secretary in the history of the United States of America, she will be a true steward of our national parks, natural resources, and all of our lands.

The federal government has long broken promises to Native American tribes who have been on this land since time immemorial. 

With her appointment, Congresswoman Haaland will help me strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship, and I am honored she accepted this critical role.

For Secretary of Energy, I nominate Jennifer Granholm.

The first woman to ever serve as Governor of Michigan.

In 2009, she faced the collapse of a defining industry of her state and our nation.

But I saw firsthand how she responded. She bet on the autoworkers. She bet on the promise of a clean energy future.

Her leadership helped rescue the American auto industry, helped save one million American jobs, and helped bring Detroit back.

Governor Granholm is just like the state she led so effectively for eight years: hard-working, resilient, and forward-thinking.

Someone not only capable of solving urgent problems, but someone who sees the opportunities of the future always with her eyes on the needs and aspirations of working people.

Throughout her career, she’s worked with states, cities, business, and labor to promote a clean energy future with new jobs, new industries, cleaner and more affordable energy. 

Now, I’m asking her to bring that vision and faith in America to the Department of Energy. 

For Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, I nominate Michael Regan.

A proud son of North Carolina, he turned a passion for exploring the woods and waters of the Inner Coastal Plain into a deep expertise in environmental science.

He got his start at the EPA serving in both Democratic and Republican Administrations, working on everything from reducing air pollution to improving energy efficiency.

He currently serves as Secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality, 
where he’s brought people together across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to help build a new clean energy economy, creating quality jobs, and confronting climate change.

He led the charge to clean up the Cape Fear River, contaminated for years by dangerous toxic chemicals.

And he created North Carolina’s first board of its kind to address environmental justice and equity. 

It helps lift up frontline and fenceline communities who had carried the burdens of industrial progress for too long, without sharing in the benefits.

Michael would be the second African American official and first African American man to serve in this position.

He shares my belief in forging consensus and finding common purpose.

He is the leader who will reassert the EPA’s place as the world’s premier environmental protection agency that safeguards our planet, protects our lives, and strengthens our economy for all Americans.

For Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, I nominate Brenda Mallory.

An accomplished public servant. A brilliant environmental lawyer.

A daughter of a working-class family who has dedicated her life to solving the most complex environmental challenges facing America.

She has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, helping safeguard our public lands and helping communities manage their natural resources responsibly.

As Chair of CEQ, I’m asking her to coordinate our environmental efforts across the entire federal government to solve some of the most persistent environmental problems America faces today. 

Brenda would be the first African American official to hold this critical position. 

We are fortunate that one of the most widely respected environmental leaders in the country accepted the call to serve again.

To serve as the first-ever National Climate Advisor and lead the newly formed White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, I appoint Gina McCarthy.

The fact I’ve asked a former EPA Administrator to take this role and lead this new office shows how serious I am.

Gina’s got more than 30 years of experience.

She’s a policy wonk and a people person. 

A problem-solver and coalition builder.

As EPA Administrator, she was instrumental in carrying out the Obama-Biden Climate Action Plan.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Getting toxins out of the air we breathe. Conserving critical water sources.

She led our effort to help lower carbon emissions of existing power plants and power plants of the future.

And by doing the necessary work here at home, she helped us rally the world around the Paris Climate Accords.

Today, I’m asking her to take a singular focus on carrying out our ambitious climate agenda 
here at home, while my Special Envoy John Kerry leads our climate efforts around the world.

I’m grateful to work alongside her again.

And to serve as Deputy National Climate Advisor, I appoint Ali Zaidi.

He served as a top climate advisor to President Obama and me at the Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council. 

He helped draft and implement our Climate Action Plan and secure the Paris Climate Agreement.

He currently serves as New York’s Deputy Secretary of Energy and Environment and the State’s Chairman of Climate Policy and Finance.

He’s helping to create jobs generating solar and wind power, jobs building electric charging stations and a more modern grid, bold climate action grounded in science, economics, and public health.

And, he’s an immigrant from Pakistan who grew up in the Rust Belt, outside Erie, Pennsylvania.

Ali knows we can beat the climate crisis with jobs. 

He knows we can deliver environmental justice and revitalize communities too often overlooked and forgotten. 

And every day he’ll walk into the White House, knowing the world is looking for America to lead.

To each of you, thank you for answering the call to serve.

To your families, thank you. 

We could not do this without you or them.

To the career civil servants at these agencies, we look forward to working with you to once again carry out your department’s mission with honor and integrity.

And to the American people — yes, the goals I’ve laid today are bold. 

The challenges ahead are daunting.

But I want you to know that we can do this.

We must do this. 

And we will do this.

We are America. 

And there’s nothing we can’t do when we work together.

May God bless you all.

May God protect our troops.

Congresswoman Deb Haaland is Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Interior, the first Native American to be nominated for cabinet member: “We know that climate change can only be solved with participation of every department and of every community coming together in common purpose — this country can and will tackle this challenge.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com 

Remarks by Nominee for Secretary of Interior, Deb Haaland

I’m proud to stand here — on the ancestral homelands of the Lenape Tribal Nation. 

The president-elect and vice president-elect are committed to a diverse cabinet, and I’m honored and humbled to accept their nomination for Secretary of the Interior. 

Growing up in my mother’s Pueblo household made me fierce. My life has not been easy — I struggled with homelessness, relied on food stamps, and raised my child as a single mom. 

These struggles give me perspective to help people succeed. 

My grandparents — who were taken away from their families as children and sent to boarding school, in an effort to destroy their traditions and identities — maintained our culture. 

This moment is profound when we consider the fact that a former Secretary of the Interior once proclaimed it his goal to, quote, ‘civilize or exterminate’ us. I’m a living testament to the failure of that horrific ideology.

I also stand on the shoulders of my ancestors, and all the people who have sacrificed so that I can be here. 

My dad was a US Marine, and no matter where we were stationed, he made sure we spent time outdoors. 

Time with my dad in the mountains or on the beach and time with my grandparents in the cornfield at Laguna taught me to respect the Earth and to value our resources. I carry those values with me everywhere. I’m a product of their resilience. 

As our country faces the impacts of climate change and environmental injustice, the Interior Department has a role to address these challenges. 

The president-elect’s goals are driven by justice and empowering communities who have shouldered the burdens of environmental negligence.  

And we will ensure that the decisions at Interior will once again be driven by science.

We know that climate change can only be solved with participation of every department and of every community coming together in common purpose — this country can and will tackle this challenge. 

The president-elect and vice president-elect know that issues under Interior’s jurisdiction aren’t simply about conservation — they’re woven in with justice, good jobs, and closing the racial, wealth, and health gaps. 

This historic moment will not go by without the acknowledgment of the many people who have believed in me over the years and had the confidence in me for this position.

I’ll be fierce for all of us, for our planet, and all of our protected land.

I am honored and ready to serve.

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, is nominated to become Secretary of Energy: “The path to building back better starts with building and deploying those products here, stamping them Made in America, and exporting them around the world. We can win those jobs for American workers.”© Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com 

Remarks by Nominee for Secretary of Energy,  Jennifer Granholm

Mr. President-elect, Madam Vice President-elect — thank you for your confidence.

I bring my gratitude, and that of the loves of my life: My best friend and husband Dan Mulhern, my glorious children and their equally magnificent spouses — Connor and Alexis, Cece and Damián, and Jack.  

My commitment to clean energy was forged in the fire.

I was the Governor of Michigan when the Great Recession struck, pushing the auto industry — the lifeblood of our state — to the brink of collapse.

Workers were losing their jobs through no fault of their own.

Banks wouldn’t lend; families lost their homes; our unemployment rate shot up to 15 percent.

But then, thankfully, as now, “help was on the way.”

Joe Biden and the Obama administration worked with us to rescue the auto industry, save a million jobs, retool and electrify Detroit for the future, and diversify Michigan’s economy on the strength of a new sector: clean energy.

Today, in the midst of another harrowing crisis, clean energy remains one of the most promising economic growth sectors in the world.

Over the next two decades, countries will invest trillions of dollars in electric cars, solar panels, wind turbines, and energy-efficient appliances and buildings.

They’ll upgrade their electric grids using smart technology.

Millions of good-paying jobs will be created — but where will those jobs be?

In China, or other countries fighting tooth-and-nail to corner the clean energy market? Or here in America?

The path to building back better starts with building and deploying those products here, stamping them Made in America, and exporting them around the world.

We can win those jobs for American workers. 

I know what those jobs will mean for families.

Though I’m proud to have been a U.S. citizen for 40 years, I arrived here as a Canadian immigrant at age four, brought by parents seeking opportunity. 

My mom is a funny and fierce Irish/Welsh “Newfie” from Newfoundland, Canada — an island fishing province they call “The Rock.”

Like many women in her generation, she never went to college.

My dad died earlier this year of a cerebral hemorrhage.

He was born into extreme poverty, in a cabin in rural Canada with no running water.

My grandfather had immigrated from Sweden during the depression; unable to find a job to provide for his young family, he shot himself in desperation when my dad was three years old.

My grandmother became a single mom, with three young children, living in dire poverty.

My dad found work at a sawmill at 11. And after he married my mom, they came to America for better jobs.  

Despite not having a college degree, my hard-working, gentle dad got the fair chance he was looking for in America — he started out as a bank teller, and retired as head of the bank.

It is because of my family’s journey — and my experience fighting for hardworking Michigan families — that I have become obsessed.

Obsessed with creating good-paying jobs in America — obsessed with seizing the opportunities of a clean energy future.

We can let other countries beat us to those opportunities, or we can get in the game.

I’m so ready, and honored, Coach, that you are putting me on the field with this amazing team — to help create those jobs in every pocket of this country, and especially in the hardest-hit places, for the people still waiting on the fair chance they need.

Thank you for tapping me to work on their behalf.

Biden nominated Michael Regan to Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency: “We need an all-hands-on-deck approach from industry to individuals, finding common ground to build back better for workers, for communities, for our economy, and for our planet. And that’s what we’ll pursue together.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com 

Remarks by Nominee for Administrator of the EPA, Michael Regan

Mr. President-elect, Madam Vice President-elect: Thank you for this opportunity.

Growing up as a child, hunting and fishing with my father and grandfather in eastern North Carolina — I developed a deep love and respect for the outdoors and our natural resources.

But I also experienced respiratory issues that required me to use an inhaler on days when pollutants and allergens were especially bad.

I’ve always been curious about the connections between our environment and our health — how the world around us contributes to, or detracts from, our enjoyment of life.

So after completing my education in environmental science, there was one place in particular I wanted to work: the EPA.

When I started that first summer internship, I never imagined I would one day be nominated to lead the agency as its Administrator.

So this opportunity is a dream come true.

Since the start of my career, my goals have been the same: To safeguard our natural resources; to improve the quality of our air and water; to protect families and communities and help them seize the opportunities of a cleaner, healthier world.

Now, I’m honored to pursue those goals alongside leaders who understand what’s at stake.

When President-elect Biden called out the plight of fenceline communities during the campaign, he made it clear that we would no longer just deal with issues up to the fencelines of facilities —  we would actually see the people on the other side of those fences.

He has already backed up that commitment by assembling a team that reflects America — and I’m proud to join the vice president-elect as a fellow HBCU graduate in this administration.

Together, this team will ensure that environmental justice and human impacts are top of mind as we tackle the tough issues.

After nearly a decade at the EPA, I know firsthand the remarkable dedication and talent of the career staff.

And as a state official, I understand how the actions of the EPA can help or hurt local efforts.

We are going to ensure that the EPA is once again a strong partner for the states — not a roadblock.

We will be driven by our conviction that every person in our great country has the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthier life no matter how much money they have in their pocket, the color of their skin, or what community they live in.

We will move with urgency on climate change, protecting our drinking water, and enacting an environmental justice framework that empowers people in all communities.

But we also know that these challenges can’t be solved by regulation alone.

And we know that environmental protection and economic prosperity are not mutually exclusive — they go hand in hand.

We need an all-hands-on-deck approach from industry to individuals, finding common ground to build back better for workers, for communities, for our economy, and for our planet.

And that’s what we’ll pursue together. 

I look forward to continuing that work on behalf of the American people.

Biden is appointing environmental lawyer Brenda Mallory as Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality: “CEQ will work with a broad range of partners on a broad range of issues, tackle the full breadth of climate change, preserve the natural treasures of our nation, center environmental justice, and help more communities overcome legacy environmental impacts.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com 

Remarks by Appointee for Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, Brenda Mallory

Mr. President-elect — Madam Vice President-elect —I am honored and humbled by the trust you’ve placed in me, and I look forward to getting to work with this incredible team.

I am especially grateful for this chance to return to public service at a time when agency personnel are looking for optimism, and so many communities are struggling under the weight of persistent and interwoven crises.

I know first-hand the challenges that everyday people face when one unexpected illness or expense can upend the economic stability of a family.

I grew up in the working-class community of Waterbury, Connecticut — a town not so different from Scranton, Pennsylvania.

I know the faces of the marginalized, and I appreciate the challenges of urban pollution. 

While the words climate change and environmental injustice were not part of my vernacular back then, the evidence of their impacts was all around.

In that setting, there was plenty of opportunity to work to make a difference in people’s lives.

For my parents, and particularly my father, dedication to tackling community challenges was vitally important.

Service, in all its forms, was essential.

They taught me to be a problem-solver — to recognize that each of us is blessed with different talents, and we are called to bring those gifts to bear wherever we are to work with anyone and everyone to make things better in the communities we share.

This has been a driving force and a guiding principle on my journey. 

I earned a high school scholarship that changed the course of my life. 

I became the first in my family to go to college, I attended law school, and at each stage, I was aware of how different the world I came from was from the one I was entering.

I didn’t set out to specialize in environmental issues, but once I started, I was always mindful of the practical implications of decisions.

As a staffer at the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights, I learned that environmental protection and ensuring the health and wellbeing of all communities had to be reconciled.  

It is essential that we deploy smart and humane policy to help communities pull themselves back from the edge and improve the health, security, and prosperity of all their people.

The Build Back Better plan is poised to breathe new life into the Council on Environmental Quality. 

CEQ will work with a broad range of partners on a broad range of issues, tackle the full breadth of climate change, preserve the natural treasures of our nation, center environmental justice, and help more communities overcome legacy environmental impacts.

I am grateful to the President-elect and the Vice President-elect for elevating this work and lifting up the communities where it will make a world of difference.

Thank you for this opportunity to serve.

Gina McCarthy, the former EPA Administrator, will be the first-ever National Climate Advisor and head of the newly formed White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy: “Climate change isn’t only a threat to the planet — it’s a threat to the health and wellbeing of people, and the precious natural resources we depend on. Defeating that threat is the fight of our lifetimes. And our success will require the engagement of every community and every sector in our nation, and every country across our world.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Remarks by Appointee for White House Climate Coordinator, Gina McCarthy

Mr. President-elect — Madam Vice President-elect—

Thank you for the opportunity to serve — and to work alongside this talented team.

The issues I’ll be taking on in this role are personal to me, and have been for as long as I can remember.

As keen listeners may have already guessed, I grew up in and around Boston.

My Dad was a teacher in the Boston Schools for more than 40 years; my Mom waitressed in local doughnut shops.

Looking back, I guess we were a lower-middle-class family. Instead of expensive vacations, my sisters and I did our adventuring in our backyard, playing in the woods and around ponds in our hometown.  

A beach day for our family was a swim in Boston Harbor.

That meant coming out of the water with oil and other things stuck to our skin — so we’d have to dry and clean ourselves at the same time.

That was back in the 60s, before the first Earth Day — not the Boston Harbor of today.  

I can remember jumping up to close the windows in my classroom when the chemical stench from the nearby rubber factory would start wafting in.

That smell kept us from outside recess on more days than I cared to remember. 

So I figured out early on that there was a connection between our environment and our health.  

And that understanding drew me into a long career of public service helping families and communities like mine, and those facing much steeper and more insidious legacies of environmental harm to overcome the challenges that were holding them back.

Environmental protection is part of my moral fiber.

And I am proud of the progress we’ve made and the work I did in local and state governments as well as at EPA to make air and water cleaner, make communities safer and more livable, and begin to confront climate change.

I’m here today because climate change isn’t only a threat to the planet — it’s a threat to the health and wellbeing of people, and the precious natural resources we depend on.

Defeating that threat is the fight of our lifetimes.

And our success will require the engagement of every community and every sector in our nation, and every country across our world. 

But the opportunities to act on climate right now fill me with hope, energy, and excitement.

We not only have the responsibility to meet this moment together, we have the capacity to meet this moment together.

The President-elect has put together the strongest climate plan ever raised to this level of leadership.

It rises to this incredible moment of opportunity to build back better for our health, for jobs, and for communities that have been systemically disadvantaged for years.

It will be my honor to help turn this plan into promises kept by marshaling every part of our government, working directly with communities, and harnessing the forces of science — and the values of environmental justice — to build a better future for my two—soon to be three—little grandchildren, and for generations of Americans to come.

Thank you for this opportunity to help put Americans back to work in innovative, good-paying jobs to improve the health of our communities and to help clear the path for people in every hometown in America to live brighter, cleaner, more vibrant lives.

 

Biden is appointing Ali Zaidi his Deputy National Climate Advisor: “For our planet and the people who live here, the peril of the climate crisis is already evident. But we can also see the promise in the jobs — casting and machining, installing and rewiring, pouring new foundations and building new industries. And in the possibility of repairing communities hurt places where the pollution has been heavy, and opportunity has never quite reached.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com 

Remarks by Appointee for Deputy White House Climate Coordinator, Ali Zaidi

Thank you President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris.

I am deeply honored to answer your call to serve this nation that I love, especially at this moment of consequence.

For our planet and the people who live here, the peril of the climate crisis is already evident.

But we can also see the promise in the jobs — casting and machining, installing and rewiring, pouring new foundations and building new industries. 

And in the possibility of repairing communities hurt places where the pollution has been heavy, and opportunity has never quite reached.

Mr. President-elect & Madam Vice President-elect, you campaigned on delivering that promise by mounting a response equal to this existential threat, not only by listening to the science, but also by invigorating the economy. Revving up manufacturing and innovation, spurring good-paying union jobs and advancing justice — long overdue.

Leading by the example of America at its best.

When my parents moved from Pakistan to Pennsylvania, they brought two little kids — and a few suitcases of dreams.

Dreams their kids are living today: 

Danish, my brother: a doctor on the frontlines of the COVID crisis, and me: moving to frontlines of the fight against climate change.

To be healthy, to have purpose, and to be able to give back — that is how our parents taught us to define the American Dream.

I am so grateful to be serving alongside the team you have assembled.

Grateful for Gina McCarthy, my guide and good friend, for the incredible and inspiring leaders on this stage, and for those with whom we’ll partner all across your administration.

This has been a trying year for all Americans — marked by so much loss. But throughout, you have been there for us. 

And when the pandemic hit closer to home, you were there for me.

Mr. President-elect, that is who you are.  A person of faith and family, decency and goodness. 

Your leadership gives me hope.    

My students, scientists imagining and inventing, give me hope

Young organizers, mobilizing and advocating, give me hope

And together, I know: We will meet this moment.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris: “These public servants reflect the very best of America. And they are the team we need to meet this urgent challenge.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com 

Remarks Vice President-elect Kamala Harris

A few months ago, as wildfires raged across the West, I traveled home to California. 

What I saw on that trip — and so many others in recent years — was heartbreaking.

Charred playgrounds.

Homes and neighborhoods in ashes. 

Firefighters battling fires, while their own homes burned to the ground.

Some of the most toxic air, anywhere in the world. 

Two years ago, in 2018, when I visited communities like Paradise that had been devastated by wildfires, that year’s fire season was considered the worst in California’s history. 

This fire season was even worse. The worst in California’s history — and America’s history. 

And of course, fires are only one symptom of our growing climate crisis. 

In recent years, families across the Midwest have experienced historic flooding, while families along our coasts have endured some of the most active hurricane seasons on record. 

They only name a storm if it’s particularly dangerous. This year, we had more named storms than ever before.

Our climate crisis is not a partisan issue. 

And it is not a hoax. 

It is an existential threat to all of us, particularly poor communities and communities of color who bear the greatest risks from polluted air, polluted water, and a failing infrastructure. 

Years ago, when I was District Attorney in San Francisco, I created the first environmental justice unit in the city — and one of the first in our country. 

Because I believe that everyone has a right to breathe clean air and drink clean water. 

So does the president-elect. 

Part of the reason I was so proud to join him as his running mate was because he was proposing one of the most ambitious climate plans in history.

A plan to secure carbon-pollution free electricity by 2035. 

A plan to achieve net-zero emissions no later than 2050.

A plan to invest in a clean energy future, and create millions of good-paying, union jobs, along the way.

And the team that President-elect Biden and I are announcing today will help make that plan a reality.

They are some of our country’s most seasoned public servants and climate experts.

They have experience mastering the most effective ways to get things done when it comes to climate change. 

They recognize the importance of bringing the private sector and organized labor together with government to meet this challenge, and confront this crisis head-on with our allies and partners around the world.

And they are compassionate leaders who understand that, ultimately, addressing climate change is about building safer communities, and healthier communities, and thriving communities, for all Americans.

These public servants reflect the very best of America. And they are the team we need to meet this urgent challenge. 

In his 2015 encyclical, the Holy Father Pope Francis wrote — quote: “Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.”

Starting on January 20th, we will work to heed those words and come together, here in our country and around the world, to build and protect our common home for generations to come.

Thank you, Mr. President-elect.

Biden: ‘If you give a climate arsonist 4 more years, why be surprised if more of America is ablaze?’

Vice President Joe Biden delivers an address in Wilmington, Delaware, on Climate Change: “If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if more of America is ablaze? ..“And from the pandemic, the economic freefall, the racial unrest, and the ravages of climate change, it’s clear that we are not safe in Donald Trump’s America… Like the pandemic, dealing with climate change is a global crisis that requires American leadership. It requires a president for all Americans.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

While Trump continues to deny climate change as a “hoax” (one perpetrated by China to hurt US business), minimize the destruction to life and livehood of the wildfires setting the West ablaze that he blamed on California’s “failure” to adequately rake the forest floor, actively denigrate public health experts while promoting conditions for the super-spread of coronavirus, and call for Obama to be jailed for treason, former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for president, spoke out on the urgency to address the existential climate crisis and how he would address it.  

“The unrelenting impact of climate change affects every single one of us…It requires action, not denial. It requires leadership, not scapegoating…

 “Our response should be grounded in science. Acting together. All of us. But like with our federal response to COVID-19, the lack of a national strategy on climate change leaves us with patchwork solutions…

But if Trump gets a second term, these hellish events will become more common, more devastating, and more deadly.

“If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires? How many suburbs will have been flooded out? How many suburbs will have been blown away in superstorms?
 
“If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if more of America is ablaze? ..

“And from the pandemic, the economic freefall, the racial unrest, and the ravages of climate change, it’s clear that we are not safe in Donald Trump’s America.

“Like the pandemic, dealing with climate change is a global crisis that requires American leadership.
 
“It requires a president to meet the threshold duty of the office — to care for everyone. To defend us from every attack – seen and unseen. Always and without exception. Every time.”

Here is a highlighted transcript of Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks as prepared for delivery in Delaware:

Good afternoon.
 
As a nation, we face one of the most difficult moments in our history. Four historic crises. All at the same time.
 
The worst pandemic in over 100 years, that’s killed nearly 200,000 Americans and counting.
 
The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, that’s cost tens of millions of American jobs and counting.
 
Emboldened white supremacy unseen since the 1960s and a reckoning on race long overdue.
 
And the undeniable, accelerating, and punishing reality of climate change and its impact on our planet and our people — on lives and livelihoods
— which I’d like to talk about today.
 
Jill and I continue to pray for everyone in California, Oregon, Washington, and across the West as the devastating wildfires rage on — just as we’ve held in our hearts those who’ve faced hurricanes and tropical storms on our coasts, in Florida, in North Carolina, or like in parts of New Orleans where they just issued an emergency evacuation for Hurricane Sally, that’s approaching and intensifying; Floods and droughts across the Midwest, the fury of climate change everywhere — all this year, all right now.
 
We stand with our families who have lost everything, the firefighters and first responders risking everything to save others, and the millions of Americans caught between relocating during a pandemic or staying put as ash and smoke pollute the air they breathe.
 
Think about that.
 
People are not just worried about raging fires. They are worried about breathing air. About damage to their lungs.
 
Parents, already worried about Covid-19 for their kids when they’re indoors, are now worried about asthma attacks for their kids when they’re outside.
 
Over the past two years, the total damage from wildfires has reached nearly $50 Billion in California alone.
 
This year alone, nearly 5 million acres have burned across 10 states — more acres than the entire state of Connecticut.
 
And it’s only September. California’s wildfire season typically runs through October.
 
Fires are blazing so bright and smoke reaching so far, NASA satellites can see them a million miles away in space.
 
The cost of this year’s damage will again be astronomically high.
 
But think of the view from the ground, in the smoldering ashes.
 
Loved ones lost, along with the photos and keepsakes of their memory. Spouses and kids praying each night that their firefighting husband, wife, father, and mother will come home. Entire communities destroyed.
 
We have to act as a nation. It shouldn’t be so bad that millions of Americans live in the shadow of an orange sky and are left asking if doomsday is here.
 
I know this feeling of dread and anxiety extends beyond just the fires. We’ve seen a record hurricane season costing billions of dollars. Last month, Hurricane Laura intensified at a near-record rate just before its landfall along Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.
 
It’s a troubling marker not just for an increased frequency of hurricanes, but more powerful and destructive storms. They’re causing record damage after record damage to people’s homes and livelihoods.
 
And before it intensified and hit the Gulf Coast, Laura ravaged Puerto Rico — where, three years after Hurricane Maria — our fellow Americans are still recovering from its damage and devastation.
 
Think about that reality.
 
Our fellow Americans are still putting things back together from the last big storm as they face the next one.
 
We’ve also seen historic flooding in the Midwest — often compounding the damages delivered by last year’s floods that cost billions dollars in damage.
 
This past spring Midland, Michigan experienced a flood so devastating — with deadly flash flooding, overrunning dams and roadways, and the displacement of 10,000 residents — that it was considered a once-in-500-year weather event.
 
But those once-in-many-generations events? They happen every year now.
 
The past ten years were the hottest decade ever recorded
. The Arctic is literally melting. Parts are on fire.
 
What we’re seeing in America — in our communities — is connected to that.
 
With every bout with nature’s fury, caused by our own inaction on climate change, more Americans see and feel the devastation in big cities, small towns, on coastlines and farmlands.
 
It is happening everywhere. It is happening now. It affects us all.
 
Nearly two hundred cities are experiencing the longest stretches of deadly heat waves in fifty years. It requires them to help their poor and elderly residents adapt to extreme heat to simply stay alive, especially in homes without air conditioning.
 
Our family farmers in the Midwest are facing historic droughts.
 

These follow record floods and hurricane-speed windstorms all this year. 
 
It’s ravaged millions of acres of corn, soybeans, and other crops. Their very livelihood which sustained their families and our economy for generations is now in jeopardy. 
 
How will they pay their bills this year? What will be left to pass on to their kids?
 
And none of this happens in a vacuum.
 
A recent study showed air pollution is linked with an increased risk of death from COVID-19.
 
Our economy can’t recover if we don’t build back with more resiliency to withstand extreme weather — extreme weather that will only come with more frequency.
 
The unrelenting impact of climate change affects every single one of us. But too often the brunt falls disproportionately on communities of color, exacerbating the need for environmental justice.
 
These are the interlocking crises of our time.
 
It requires action, not denial.
 
It requires leadership, not scapegoating.
 
It requires a president to meet the threshold duty of the office — to care for everyone. To defend us from every attack – seen and unseen. Always and without exception. Every time.
 
Because here’s the deal.
 
Hurricanes don’t swerve to avoid “blue states.” Wildfires don’t skip towns that voted a certain way.
 
The impacts of climate change don’t pick and choose. That’s because it’s not a partisan phenomenon.
 
It’s science.
 
And our response should be the same. Grounded in science. Acting together. All of us.
 
But like with our federal response to COVID-19, the lack of a national strategy on climate change leaves us with patchwork solutions.
 
I’m speaking from Delaware, the lowest-lying state in the nation, where just last week the state’s Attorney General sued 31 big fossil fuel companies alleging that they knowingly wreaked damage on the climate. 
 
Damage that is plain to everyone but the president.
 
As he flies to California today, we know he has no interest in meeting this moment.
 
We know he won’t listen to the experts or treat this disaster with the urgency it demands,
as any president should do during a national emergency.
 
He’s already said he wanted to withhold aid to California — to punish the people of California — because they didn’t vote for him.
 
This is yet another crisis he won’t take responsibility for.
 
The West is literally on fire and he blames the people whose homes and communities are burning.
 
He says, “You gotta clean your floors, you gotta clean your forests.”
 
This is the same president who threw paper towels to the people of Puerto Rico instead of truly helping them recover and rebuild.
 
We know his disdain for his own military leaders and our veterans.
 
Just last year, the Defense Department reported that climate change is a direct threat to more than two-thirds of our military’s operationally critical installations. And this could well be a conservative estimate.
 
Donald Trump’s climate denial may not have caused the record fires, record floods, and record hurricanes.
 
But if he gets a second term, these hellish events will become more common, more devastating, and more deadly.
 
Meanwhile, Donald Trump warns that integration is threatening our suburbs. That’s ridiculous. 
 
But you know what’s actually threatening our suburbs?
 
Wildfires are burning the suburbs in the West. Floods are wiping out suburban neighborhoods in the Midwest. And hurricanes are imperiling suburban life along our coasts. 
 
If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires? How many suburbs will have been flooded out? How many suburbs will have been blown away in superstorms?
 
If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if more of America is ablaze? 
 
If you give a climate denier four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised when more of America is under water?
 
We need a president who respects science, who understands that the damage from climate change is already here, and, unless we take urgent action, will soon be more catastrophic.
 
A president who recognizes, understands, and cares that Americans are dying.
 
Which makes President Trump’s climate denialism — his disdain of science and facts — all the more unconscionable.
 
Once again, he fails the most basic duty to this nation.
 
He fails to protect us.
 
And from the pandemic, the economic freefall, the racial unrest, and the ravages of climate change, it’s clear that we are not safe in Donald Trump’s America.
 
What he doesn’t get is that even in crisis, there is nothing beyond our capacity as a country.
 
And while so many of you are hurting right now, I want you to know that if you give me the honor of serving as your President, we can, and we will, meet this moment with urgency and purpose.
 
We can and we will solve the climate crisis, and build back better than we were before.
 
When Donald Trump thinks about climate change he thinks: “hoax.”
 
I think: “jobs.”
 
Good-paying, union jobs that put Americans to work building a stronger, more climate resilient nation.
 
A nation with modernized water, transportation and energy infrastructure to withstand the impacts of extreme weather and a changing climate.
 
When Donald Trump thinks about renewable energy, he sees windmills somehow causing cancer.
 
I see American manufacturing — and American workers — racing to lead the global market. I also see farmers making American agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions, and gaining new sources of income in the process.
 
When Donald Trump thinks about LED bulbs, he says he doesn’t like them because: “the light’s no good. I always look orange.”
 
I see the small businesses and master electricians designing and installing award-winning energy conservation measures.
 
This will reduce the electricity consumption and save businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in energy costs.
 
While he turns us against our allies, I will bring us back into the Paris Agreement. I will put us back in the business of leading the world on climate change. And I will challenge everyone to up the ante on their climate commitments.
 
Where he reverses the Obama-Biden fuel-efficiency standards, he picks Big Oil companies over the American workers.
 
I will not only bring the standards back, I will set new, ambitious ones — that our workers are ready to meet.
 
And I also see American workers building and installing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the country and American consumers switching to electric vehicles through rebates and incentives.
 
Not only that, the United States owns and maintains an enormous fleet of vehicles — and we’re going to harness the purchasing power of our federal government to make sure we are buying electric vehicles that are made and sourced by union workers right here in the United States of America.
 
All together, this will mean one million new jobs in the American auto industry.
 
And we’ll do another big thing: put us on a path of achieving a carbon-pollution free electricity sector by 2035 that no future president can turn back.
 
Transforming the American electricity sector to produce power without carbon pollution will be the greatest spur to job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st Century. Not to mention the positive benefits to our health and our environment.
 
We need to get to work right away.
 
We’ll need scientists at national labs and land-grant universities and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to improve and innovate the technologies needed to generate, store, and transmit this clean electricity.
 
We’ll need engineers to design them and workers to manufacture them. We’ll need iron workers and welders to install them.
 
And we’ll become the world’s largest exporter of these technologies, creating even more jobs.
 
We know how to do this.
 
The Obama-Biden Administration rescued the auto industry and helped them retool.
 
We made solar energy cost-competitive with traditional energy, and weatherized more than a million homes.
 
We will do it again — bigger and faster and better than before.
 
We’ll also build 1.5 million new energy-efficient homes and public housing units that will benefit our communities three-times over — by alleviating the affordable housing crisis, by increasing energy efficiency, and by reducing the racial wealth gap linked to home ownership.
 
There are thousands of oil and natural gas wells that the oil and gas companies have just abandoned, many of which are leaking toxins.
 
We can create 250,000 jobs plugging those wells right away — good union jobs for energy workers. This will help sustain communities and protect the environment as well.
 
We’ll also create new markets for our family farmers and ranchers.
 
We’ll launch a new, modern day Civilian Climate Corps to heal our public lands and make us less vulnerable to wildfires and floods.
 
I believe that every American has a fundamental right to breathe clean air and drink clean water. But I know that we haven’t fulfilled that right. 
 
That’s true of the millions of families struggling with the smoke created by these devastating wildfires right now. 
 
But it’s also been true for a generation or more in places — like Cancer Alley in Louisiana or along the Route 9 corridor right here in Delaware. 
 
Fulfilling this basic obligation to all Americans —  especially Black, Brown, and Native American communities, who too often don’t have clean air and clean water — is not going to be easy.
 
But it is necessary. And I am committed to doing it. 
 
These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams. These are concrete, actionable policies that create jobs,  mitigate climate change, and put our nation on the road to net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.
 
Some say that we can’t afford to fix this.
 
But here’s the thing. 
 
Look around at the crushing consequences of the extreme weather events I’ve been describing. We’ve already been paying for it. So we have a choice. 
 
We can invest in our infrastructure to make it stronger and more resilient, while at the same time tackling the root causes of climate change. 
 
Or, we can continue down the path of Donald Trump’s indifference, costing tens of billions of dollars to rebuild, and where the human costs — the lives and livelihoods and homes and communities destroyed — are immeasurable. 
 
We have a choice.
 
We can commit to doing this together because we know that climate change is the existential challenge that will define our future as a country, for our children, grandchildren, and great-children.
 
Or, there’s Donald Trump’s way — to ignore the facts, to deny reality that amounts to full surrender and a failure to lead.
 
It’s backward-looking politics that will harm the environment, make communities less healthy, and hold back economic progress while other countries race ahead. 
 
And it’s a mindset that doesn’t have any faith in the capacity of the American people to compete, to innovate, and to win.
 
Like the pandemic, dealing with climate change is a global crisis that requires American leadership.
 
It requires a president for all Americans.
 
So as the fires rage out West on this day, our prayers remain with everyone under the ash.
 
I know it’s hard to see the sun rise and believe today will be better than yesterday when America faces this historic inflection point.
 
A time of real peril, but also a time of extraordinary possibilities.
 
I want you to know that we can do this.
 
We will do this.
 
We are America.
 
We see the light through the dark smoke.
 
We never give up.
 
Always.
 
Without exception.

Every time.
 
May God bless our firefighters and first responders.
 
May God protect our troops.

Biden Presents Clean Energy Plan to Secure Environmental Justice and Equitable Economic Opportunity

A solar array on a farm in the Finger Lakes, New York State. Vice President Biden is proposing a bold plan to build a modern, sustainable infrastructure based on clean energy that in addition to addressing climate change, will create millions of well-paying jobs. “When Trump speaks of climate change, he thinks of one word, ‘hoax.’ When I think of climate change, the word I think of is ‘jobs.’ © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In the midst of economic, unemployment, and climate crises, Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president,  rolled out the second plank of his Build Back Better economic recovery plan for working families: building a modern, sustainable infrastructure and an equitable clean energy future. In a sharp contrast to Donald Trump’s disregard for working Americans and the consequential climate emergency at hand, Vice President Biden’s plan will create millions of good paying, union jobs for Americans while building sustainable infrastructure and creating an equitable clean energy future. 

Here’s what leaders from across the country are saying about Vice President Biden’s plans: 

“The plan put forward today by former Vice President Biden will create and sustain the kinds of good-paying, union jobs that provide a ladder to the middle class and make America a leader in manufacturing clean technology, put our nation on a path to doing our part to tackle the climate crisis, rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure, and lift up all workers and communities by prioritizing investments in communities of color that have borne the brunt of environmental injustice,” Jason Walsh, the Executive Director BlueGreen Alliance, said in a statement

“As president of the IBEW, the largest union of electrical workers in the nation, I’m pleased that it will create so many jobs in nearly every sector of the workforce we represent, including construction, utility, telecommunications, manufacturing, and railroad. Joe Biden has made it clear that any new federal investments must support American jobs and American made products,” Lonnie R. Stephenson, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), said in a statement. “These are vital jobs that our nation needs more than ever… The men and women of the IBEW have been part of American’s clean-energy revolution for years now. We look forward to working with a Biden administration in building a clean and sustainable economy that can both save our planet and help rebuild the American middle class.”

“This ambitious plan is a win-win for American manufacturing, auto industry jobs, new technology and a cleaner environment. By focusing on investments in new technology, increasing demand for American-made and sourced clean vehicles; investing in our plants and our auto manufacturing facilities and creating 1 million new jobs, this all-American plan will ensure that the industry will thrive for decades to come with good paying union jobs,” the United Auto Workers (UAW) said in a statement. “This comprehensive plan will also increase investment in batteries and charging infrastructure and set fuel economy standards that involve all stakeholders. And this plan will save consumers money and cut air pollution. UAW members are looking to Washington, D.C. to invest in future jobs; new technologies; a world race to cleaner air; and to save consumers their hard-earned money. This plan checks all those boxes.”

“Joe Biden’s climate plan—by a long shot—is the most ambitious we have ever seen from any president in our nation’s history,” Gina McCarthy, president and CEO of the NRDC Action Fund, said in a statement. “It will get our economy humming again, and give our children a healthier, more just and more hopeful future. And he has committed to getting started on day one.”

“Vice President Joe Biden’s ambitious new commitments to a clean energy economy, environmental justice, and equitable climate solutions are more important than ever as our nation grapples with the realities of systemic racism, a global pandemic, and the ever growing climate crisis. Biden’s strong climate leadership stands in stark contrast with the Trump administration, which is continuing this week with its full scale assault on environmental and public health protections,” Tiernan Sittenfeld, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs of LCV Action Fund, wrote in a statement. “We applaud Vice President Biden for again making clear with these plans that combatting the climate crisis, fighting for environmental justice and creating millions of good-paying, high-quality jobs in a clean energy economy will be a very top priority on day one as president and every single day.”

“Vice President Biden is right ‘that environmental policy decisions of the past have failed communities of color,’ and his emphasis on addressing those injustices is a critical part of this plan. For too long Black, Latino, as well as low-income neighborhoods have suffered far more than their fair share of pollution and other environmental impacts, with devastating results on the health of the people living there,” said Elizabeth Gore, Senior Vice President, Political Affairs, EDF Action Fund in a statement. “The Biden Plan couldn’t be more of a stark contrast to four years of failure by the Trump administration. They have weakened limits on climate pollution, undermined scientists, and surrendered international leadership. America can’t afford another four years of a president who claims climate change is a hoax instead of providing leadership. We look forward to working with the Congress and a new administration to finally take real action on climate change.”

“While Donald Trump spreads lies about windmills, tries to block legislative efforts to advance electric vehicles, and ignores the millions of Americans working in clean energy, Joe Biden is presenting a vision to invest in and grow an equitable clean energy economy,” Sierra Club Political Director Ariel Hayes said in a statement. “The Sierra Club is encouraged by Biden’s proposal, which shows he is listening to the continued calls from activists and organizations across the country demanding a bold and ambitious plan that meets the size and scale of the crisis and completes the transition to a clean energy economy.”

“Today I heard from many in the environmental justice movement across the country who were overwhelmed by the Historic Ambitious speech addressing environmental, climate, social, and economic injustice by the Vice President,” said former South Carolina State Representative Harold Mitchell and Founder of The ReGenesis Project. “We thank you for listening, and announcing one of the boldest climate and environmental justice plans ever presented by a nominee for President.”

“Joe Biden shares DSCEJ’s commitment to build the power of Black communities, harmed by toxic pollution and vulnerable to the climate crisis, to shape the national agenda for achieving environmental justice and climate justice,” said Beverly L. Wright, Ph.D., Executive Director, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice.

“The Biden Environmental Justice Plan is the most targeted and comprehensive plan to address the legacy of environmental racism and the continuing ambivalence regarding environmental quality in communities of color that has been proposed by a potential presidential nominee,” said Peggy Shepard, co-founder and executive director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice based in Harlem, New York,” said Peggy M. Shepard, Executive Director, WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “When I was chair of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council to the EPA I witnessed the total disregard of Title 6 administrative complaints by the EPA’s Civil Rights division, and the lack of accountability or reporting on environmental justice progress by the EJ Interagency Council which was mandated to develop plans to address environmental degradation in EJ communities. The Biden plans’ initiative to mandate a report card on progress to the White House is another important proposal to establish accountability which has been absent.”

“It’s encouraging to see former Vice President Biden release an environment, climate , economic and energy plan that places justice and health at the center,” said Dr. Robert. D. Bullard, Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy, Texas Southern University, widely regarded as the father of the environmental justice movement. “Given the converging and multiple threats faced by low-income, people of color, and vulnerable communities today, I like the fact the plan calls for an inclusive and All-of-Government approach in setting policy and legislative priorities and a framework for targeting resources to address underlying systemic conditions that create and perpetuate racial and economic inequality and unequal protection.”

“This is a truly historic moment in Presidential candidate history. Environmental Justice elders are being heard and together we can, and we will forge a new pathway for this country to live up to its ideals of justice for all!” said Dr. Cecilia Martinez, Executive Director, Center for Earth, Energy & Democracy; Inaugural Signer of the Equitable and Just National Climate Platform; and Co-Chair, Biden for President Climate Engagement Advisory Council.

“We strongly applaud the Biden campaign for taking an ambitious, comprehensive approach to climate change policy that recognizes the renewable energy industry’s ability to grow America’s economy towards a cleaner environment and a more prosperous and equitable future,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association in a statement. “As our country strives to recover from the global pandemic, racial injustices, and economic recession, this is the right moment to grow the investments and good-paying American jobs associated with renewable energy development, including the significant economic benefits, lower cost electricity bills, and diverse community support that wind energy brings to rural parts of the country.”

“I think this plan out of Joe Biden is really visionary. It’s about investing in the technologies of the future and it certainly does deploy a lot of the work that the big three are already doing here in Detroit — and expands upon that and builds that out even further,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said. “Autonomous vehicles, vehicles of the future, electric vehicles — these are the industries we’ve got to make investments in, that we’ve got to grow, and that will make our environment cleaner and be a much longer-term type of investment for the people of this country. I was excited to hear Joe Biden’s plan today.”

”This is exactly the bold vision for the future that we need in our country,” said Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow. “What I love about what Joe Biden is proposing is that it’s about making it here, it’s about using it here, it’s about tackling the climate crisis in a way that creates new, clean energy jobs and does it in a way that provides opportunity for everyone and addresses parts of our communities that have been hardest hit by that pollution and the inequalities involved. “

“I’ve spent my time in public service fighting for environmental justice and for workers‘ rights so people who work hard can forge a better life for themselves. I know these two issues go hand in hand. So does my friend, Joe Biden. His clean energy jobs plan, with a strong environmental justice focus, proves it,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor and former U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.

“VP Biden has chosen a bold path to get America to energy and environmental security and confront the existential challenge of climate change with bold and realistic solutions,” said former Senator and former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

Here is the plan:

The Biden Plan to Secure Environmental Justice and Equitable Economic Opportunity in a Clean Energy Future

The current COVID-19 pandemic reminds us how profoundly the energy and environmental policy decisions of the past have failed communities of color – allowing systemic shocks, persistent stressors, and pandemics to disproportionately impact communities of color and low-income communities.
 
Joe Biden is running for President to ensure that all Americans have a fair shot at getting ahead. That means rooting out the systemic racism in our laws, policies, institutions, and hearts. Any sound energy and environmental policy must advance public health and economic opportunity for all Americans, in rural, urban, and suburban communities, and recognize that communities of color and low-income communities have faced disproportionate harm from climate change and environmental contaminants for decades. It must also hold corporate polluters responsible for rampant pollution that creates the types of underlying conditions that are contributing to the disproportionate rates of illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 among Black, Latino, and Native Americans. That means officials setting policy must be accountable to the people and communities they serve, not to polluters and corporations.
 
Addressing environmental and climate justice is a core tenet of Biden’s climate plan. Biden will:

Use an inclusive and empowering All-of-Government approach;

Make decisions that are driven by data and science;

Target resources in a way that is consistent with prioritization of environmental and climate justice; and

Assess and address risks to communities from the next public health emergency.


USE AN INCLUSIVE AND EMPOWERING, ALL-OF-GOVERNMENT APPROACH

Our nation’s environmental justice policy was developed more than twenty years ago and no longer addresses the needs of the present or future. In order to clean up our communities and provide new opportunities to those that have been disproportionately burdened by pollution and economic and racial inequality, Biden will revise and reinvigorate the 1994 Executive Order 12898 (EO 12898) on Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations. Specifically, Biden will:

Establish an Environmental and Climate Justice Division within the U.S. Department of Justice. Under the Trump Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has referred the fewest number of criminal anti-pollution cases to the Justice Department (DOJ) in 30 years. Allowing corporations to continue to pollute – affecting the health and safety of both their workers and surrounding communities – without consequences, perpetuates an egregious abuse of power. Biden will direct his EPA and DOJ to pursue these cases to the fullest extent permitted by law and, when needed, seek additional legislation to hold corporate executives personally accountable – including jail time where merited. Going beyond the ambitious proposals that the Biden plan for a clean energy revolution already includes, the Biden Administration will establish a new Environmental and Climate Justice Division within the DOJ, as proposed by Governor Inslee, to complement the work of the Environment and Natural Resources Division. In line with the new Division’s mandate, Biden will instruct the Attorney General to: (i) implement, to the extent possible by executive action, Senator Booker’s Environmental Justice Act of 2019; (ii) increase enforcement, in line with the commitments already detailed in the Biden Plan; (iii) strategically support ongoing plaintiff-driven climate litigation against polluters; (iv) address legacy pollution that includes real remedies to make communities safe, healthy, and whole; and (v) work hand-in-hand with EPA’s Office of Civil Rights.

Elevate environmental justice in the federal government and modernize the all-of-government approach. Currently, the federal government has two key environmental justice groups. Biden will elevate and reestablish the groups as the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council, both reporting directly to the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), who reports directly to the President. To support this work, Biden’s CEQ will also have senior and dedicated environmental justice staff. These two councils will be charged with revising EO 12898 in order to address current and historic environmental injustice, in collaboration with local environmental justice leaders. And, they will be tasked with  developing clear performance metrics to ensure accountability in the implementation of the Executive Order. Once the revised EO is finalized, the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council will publish an annual public performance score-card on its implementation.

Overhaul the EPA External Civil Rights Compliance Office. For too long, the EPA External Civil Rights Compliance Office has ignored its requirements under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That will end in the Biden Administration. Biden will overhaul that office and ensure that it brings justice to frontline communities that experience the worst impacts of climate change and fenceline communities that are located adjacent to pollution sources, beginning with the following actions: (i) revisit and rescind EPA’s decision in Select Steel and its Angelita C. settlement, which allowed state environmental agencies to issue dangerous permits, and to conduct its business in a way that harmed communities; (ii) conduct a rulemaking and open a public comment process to seek Americans’ input on agency guidance for investigating Title VI Administrative complaints; and (iii) work with Congress to empower communities to bring these cases themselves, by reinstituting a private right of action to sue Title VI, which was written out in the Supreme Court’s 2001 decision in Alexander v. Sandoval.


MAKE DECISIONS DRIVEN BY DATA AND SCIENCE
 
President Trump denies science and disempowers experts in the federal government. Biden will choose science over fiction, ensuring we make data-driven decisions when it comes to environmental justice.
 
Building on EPA’s EJSCREEN tool, developed in the Obama-Biden Administration, and lessons learned at the state level, Biden will charge the newly elevated White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council, in close consultation with the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, to create a data-driven Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool to identify communities threatened by the cumulative impacts of the multiple stresses of climate change, economic and racial inequality, and multi-source environmental pollution. To ensure that information is accessible and transparent, the Screening Tool will be used to publish annual maps in multiple languages that identify disadvantaged communities; including disproportionately burdened tribal areas. In addition, since too often low-income and communities of color lack air quality monitors and are, as a result, unaware of unsafe pollution levels that threaten their health, Biden will:

Mandate new monitoring in frontline and fenceline communities. Biden will ensure that the federal government recommends that each state adequately monitors environmental pollution, including emissions, criteria pollutants, and toxics, in frontline and fenceline communities. This will include installing new monitors where they are lacking to provide accurate and publically-available real-time data. Biden will also create a new environmental public health corps that boosts communities’ capacity to use this data meaningfully. 

Require community notification. In line with Congresswoman Blunt Rochester’s Alerting Localities of Environmental Risks and Threats (ALERT) Act, Biden will direct the EPA to create a community notification program requiring “industries producing hazardous and toxic chemicals to engage directly with the community where they are located to ensure residents have real-time knowledge of any toxic release and ensure that communities are engaged in the subsequent remediation plan.”

Establish interagency teams to address targeted issues and partner directly with communities. Biden will also establish an Interagency Climate Equity Task Force to directly work to resolve the most challenging and persistent existing pockets of climate inequity in frontline vulnerable communities and tribal nations. This work includes addressing the challenge of lack of access to credit and capital for many local governments and small businesses owned by and located in environmental justice communities. Biden will rely on the leadership of these communities to identify what they need most. The Biden Administration will let community leaders lead by investing in community self-determination, marshalling federal resources to support local leaders and organizations, and directly funding capacity building — from critical tools to talent — to arm the creativity of local leaders and help them build back better.

Biden will also:

Tackle water pollution in a science-based manner. Biden will focus on improving water quality in a comprehensive way. For example, it is estimated that up to 110 million American’s drinking water could be contaminated with PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), a suite of chemicals that cause a host of health issues, including cancer, and are found in states from Michigan and Wisconsin to Colorado and New Hampshire. Instead of making empty promises with no follow-through, Biden will tackle PFAS pollution by designating PFAS as a hazardous substance, setting enforceable limits for PFAS in the Safe Drinking Water Act, prioritizing substitutes through procurement, and accelerating toxicity studies and research on PFAS. In addition, Biden will accelerate the process to test for and address the presence of lead in drinking water and housing, in line with the CDC’s determination and in partnership with labor, and state, local, and tribal governments. Biden will also help protect rural communities from water and air pollution and make water bills affordable for low-income communities, rural Americans, and tribes through targeted state revolving funds and Rural Utility Service funding for disadvantaged communities.

Prioritize strategies and technologies that reduce traditional air pollution in disadvantaged communities. Biden will direct his Cabinet to prioritize the climate strategies and technologies that most improve public health. He will also direct his Office of Science and Technology Policy to publish a report within 100 days identifying the climate strategies and technologies that will result in the most air and water quality improvements and update analytical tools to ensure that they accurately account for health risk and benefits. Finally, Biden will recommend that every state prioritize emission reductions within the disadvantaged communities identified by the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool in their state-level air quality plans.


TARGET RESOURCES CONSISTENT WITH THE PRIORITY THAT ENVIRONMENTAL AND CLIMATE JUSTICE REPRESENTS
 
The Biden plan already commits to providing low-income and communities of color preference in competitive grant programs. Today, Biden commits to go even further and target 40% of his historic investment in a clean energy revolution to disadvantaged communities. Building on the ambitious New York State climate law, Biden will:

Target relevant investments with the goal of delivering 40% of the overall benefits from those investments to disadvantaged communities, specifically:

Targeting investments made through programs related to clean energy and energy efficiency deployment; clean transit and transportation; affordable and sustainable  housing; training and workforce development; remediation and reduction of legacy pollution; and development of critical clean water infrastructure; and

Utilizing the results of the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool to help identify these disadvantaged communities, which are threatened by the cumulative impacts of the multiple stresses of climate change, economic and racial inequality, and multi-source environmental pollution.

In addition, Biden will directly fund historic investments across federal agencies aimed at eliminating legacy pollution – especially in communities of color, rural and urban low-income communities, and indigenous communities. Biden will also address common challenges faced by disadvantaged communities, such as funds for replacing and remediating lead service lines and lead paint in households, daycares, and schools in order to ensure all communities have access to safe drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. These investments will create good-paying union jobs and help to build infrastructure that is resilient to the impacts of climate change in frontline and fenceline communities.


ASSESS AND ADDRESS RISKS TO COMMUNITIES FROM THE NEXT PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY

As a country, we must do a better job to prepare for and prevent public health emergencies, particularly in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by environmental stressors. The link between climate change and health security is well-documented – climate change creates a growing threat to Americans and hits low-income and communities of color the hardest. We must heed the warning signs from the current pandemic and prepare all communities. Building on The Biden Plan to Combat Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Prepare For Future Global Health Threats, Biden will take the following actions to minimize the impacts of climate change that cannot be avoided:

Create a National Crisis Strategy to address climate disasters that prioritizes equitable disaster risk reduction and response. The Trump Administration’s lack of preparedness and failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced that the next President must develop a science-based, national climate crisis strategy to support states, tribes, and territories. The next President must ensure the efficient and equitable allocation of disaster risk reduction-related resources and that we build back better after climate-related disasters. Building on Senator Markey’s Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act, Biden will use a whole-of-government approach to develop a national climate crisis strategy for each type of climate disaster that the National Climate Assessment warns will put Americans at risk (e.g., heat waves, sea level rise, wildfire, air pollution, infectious disease, hurricane, and floods). And, in line with recommendations from the American Lung Association, Biden will provide additional CDC grants to every state and territory to work with their local health departments to develop climate disaster mitigation plans.

Establish a Task Force to Decrease Risk of Climate Change to Children, the Elderly, People with Disabilities, and the Vulnerable. The Biden Department of Health and Human Services will lead a Task Force to Decrease Risk of Climate Change to Children, the Elderly, People with Disabilities, and the Vulnerable including disadvantaged and frontline communities identified by the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool.  The Task Force will identify the health impacts of climate change that will pose the largest risk to the most vulnerable populations and work across the Department and with other agencies to use a whole-of-government approach to decrease those risks, including baseline health inequities. In addition, this Task Force will be charged with developing a ready-to-deploy recovery strategy that ensures adequate housing for individuals displaced by climate disasters.

Establish an Office of Climate Change and Health Equity at HHS and Launch an Infectious Disease Defense Initiative. In order to fully prepare for and minimize the impacts of climate change that cannot be avoided, Biden will establish an Office of Climate Change and Health Equity in the Office of the Secretary of HHS, modeled after the Office of AIDS Research that was created in 1983, and invest in surveillance, early-warning systems, and research to decrease climate change and health equity risks. This new HHS Office, in collaboration with the CDC, will partner with the Department of Defense to predict the infectious diseases with the highest probability of being exacerbated by climate change, evaluate their population risk, and work with additional federal agencies to accelerate the development of vaccines or other mitigation measures that reduce the risk to Americans.

Improve the resilience of the nation’s health care system and workers in the face of natural disasters. Building on guidelines published in the Obama-Biden Administration, Biden will establish a biennial Health Care System Readiness Task Force, a public-private task force to assess the current state of the nation’s health care system resilience to natural disasters and recommend strategies and investments to improve it, which will include participation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The evaluation will include an assessment of both physical health care infrastructure and the frontline health care workforce, including opportunities to provide workforce development opportunities in disadvantaged communities. In order to inform the Readiness Task Force, beginning in 2021, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, in coordination with the U.S. Global Change Research Program and the National Security Council will publish a declassified, annual report identifying the type, likelihood of occurrence, and locations at the highest risk, and potential impacts of natural disasters in the United States.

Biden: 9-Point Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution

Vice President Joe Biden presented a 9-point plan for a Clean Energy Revolution, in stark contrast to Trump’s efforts to roll back climate actions and reignite oil, gas, coal industries over clean, renewable energy. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, presented a 9-point plan for a Clean Energy Revolution, in stark contrast to Trump’s efforts to roll back climate actions and reignite oil, gas, coal industries over clean, renewable energy. This is from the Biden campaign:

President Trump has spent his presidency ignoring the experts and scientists, reversing the Obama-Biden Administration’s efforts to address climate change, abandoning communities and workers, and blocking states and cities trying to lead— going backwards, all while we should have been doing even more.
 
On the first day of Biden’s Administration, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, there will only be 9 years left to stop the worst consequences of climate change. Biden will act on climate immediately and ambitiously, because there’s no time to waste.
 
Here are 9 key elements of Joe Biden’s plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice:
 
1) Take executive action on Day 1 to not just reverse all of the damage Trump has done, but go further and faster. Day 1 of the Biden Administration is going to be very busy! To immediately make progress on his climate agenda, Biden will take actions including requiring aggressive methane pollution limits for new and existing oil and gas operations; developing rigorous new fuel economy standards aimed at ensuring 100% of new sales for light- and medium-duty vehicles will be zero emissions and annual improvements for heavy duty vehicles; protecting America’s natural treasures by permanently protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other areas impacted by President Trump’s attack on federal lands and waters; and banning new oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters.
 
2) Work with Congress to enact in 2021, President Biden’s first year in office, legislation that, by the end of his first term, puts us on an irreversible path to achieve economy-wide net-zero emissions no later than 2050. The legislation must require polluters to bear the full cost of the carbon pollution they are emitting.
 
3) Rally the world to urgent and additional action. We know we cannot solve this emergency on our own: the United States accounts for only 15% of global emissions. On Day 1, Biden will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. But we must go further. In his first 100 days in office, Biden will convene a climate world summit to directly engage the leaders of the major greenhouse gas-emitting nations of the world to persuade them to join the United States in making more ambitious national pledges, above and beyond the commitments they have already made. Biden will not allow other nations, including China, to game the system by becoming destination economies for polluters, undermining our climate efforts and exploiting American workers and businesses.
 
4) Make a historic investment in clean energy and innovation. Biden will invest $400 billion over ten years, as one part of a broad mobilization of public investment, in clean energy and innovation. That investment is twice the investment of the Apollo program which put a man on the moon, in today’s dollars. He will also establish ARPA-C, a new research agency focused on accelerating climate technologies.
 
5) Accelerate the deployment of clean technology throughout our economy. Creating the best, most innovative clean technology in the world is not enough. We also need to make sure it is used by households and industry in order to achieve aggressive emissions reductions. Biden will set a target of reducing the carbon footprint of the U.S. building stock 50% by 2035, creating incentives for deep retrofits that combine appliance electrification, efficiency, and on-site clean power generation. He will work with our nation’s governors and mayors to support the deployment of more than 500,000 new public charging outlets by the end of 2030. And, Biden will ensure our agricultural sector is the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions, and that our farmers earn income as we meet this milestone.
 
6) Make environmental justice a priority across all federal agencies. Everyone is already feeling the effects of climate change. But the impacts of climate change (and inaction on climate change) – on health, economics, and overall quality of life – are far more acute on communities of color, tribal lands, and low-income communities. The coronavirus pandemic, which early data suggests is linked to air pollution that disproportionately affects communities of color and low-income communities, is shining new light on this reality. Biden will make it a priority for all federal agencies — and hold them accountable for results — to engage in community-driven approaches to develop solutions for environmental injustices affecting communities of color, low-income communities, and indigenous communities.
 
7) Hold polluters accountable. On Day 1, Biden will require public companies to disclose climate-related financial risks and the greenhouse gas emissions in their operations and supply chains. In his first year, he’ll work to enact legislation requiring polluters to bear the full cost of their climate pollution. But that’s not all: Biden will direct his EPA and Justice Department to pursue these cases to the fullest extent permitted by law and, when needed, seek additional legislation to hold corporate executives personally accountable – including jail time when merited. Allowing corporations to continue to pollute – affecting the health and safety of both their workers and surrounding communities – without consequences perpetuates an egregious abuse of power. These companies must be accountable to the American people, the communities where they operate, and the workers they employ.
 
8) Create 10 million good-paying, middle-class, union jobs. Every federal dollar spent on rebuilding our infrastructure during the Biden Administration will be used to prevent, reduce, and withstand the impacts of this climate crisis. American workers should build American infrastructure and manufacture all the materials that go into it, and all of these workers must have the option to join a union and collectively bargain. Biden will ensure his infrastructure legislation incorporates labor provisions so federal investments create millions of middle-class jobs, benefiting workers across industries.
 
9) Fulfill our obligation to the communities and workers that have risked their lives to produce fossil fuels that made it possible for America to win world wars and become an industrial power. Biden will stand with communities and workers impacted by the changing energy market, including by increasing coal companies’ payments into the black lung benefits program, reforming the black lung benefits system so it is no longer rigged in favor of coal companies who can hire lawyers and doctors to ensure miners’ benefits are denied, expanding efforts to help miners detect black lung cases earlier and access care, and enforcing regulations to reduce cases of black lung in the first place. Biden will also establish a task force to help these communities access federal investments and leverage private sector investments to help create high-paying union jobs based upon the unique assets of each community, partner with unions and community colleges to create training opportunities for these new jobs, repair infrastructure, keep public employees like firefighters and teachers on the payroll, and keep local hospitals open.
 
Read Biden’s full climate and environmental justice plan at joebiden.com/climate

Democratic Race for 2020: Warren Plan to Stop Wall Street from Financing the Climate Crisis

Senator Elizabeth Warren, running for president, has just released a plan to stop Wall Street from financing the climate crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 

Capitalists are actually much more responsive to the public will than lawmakers – which may not be saying much. But as the United Nations Climate Summit demonstrated, corporations and the financial institutions that fund them are becoming more conscious of climate change. Even former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has become an advocate for climate action. More investors are factoring in the cost of climate disasters as well as the change to agriculture, human productivity and health, availability of resources including potable water. Still, corporations that are wedded to the status quo and an economy and society oriented around fossil fuels and intense carbon emissions, that don’t respect air and water quality, need a nudge. Senator Elizabeth Warren, running for president, has just released a plan to stop Wall Street from financing the climate crisis.

Climate change poses a systemic risk to the health and stability of our financial system,” Senator Warren stated. “And yet, Wall Street is refusing to listen, let alone take real action. My plan to Stop Wall Street From Financing the Climate Crisis is just the first step to ensuring our financial system is ensured against the worst effects of climate change and Wall Street stops financing the climate crisis.

This is from the Warren campaign:

Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren released her plan to stop Wall Street from financing the climate crisis. Elizabeth’s plan will limit and manage the risk that climate change poses to our economy by reining in Wall Street and ensuring our banks, asset managers, and insurers pay the true cost of climate change, instead of passing it on to millions of Americans. 
 
Elizabeth rang the alarm in the lead up to the 2008 financial crisis. She is sounding the alarm on Wall Street once again as we face the existential threat of our time: climate change.  It’s clear that our entire financial system is in major danger from the climate crisis. And yet, neither the largest U.S. financial institutions, nor the public watchdogs that are supposed to hold them accountable, have taken adequate steps to address Wall Street’s role in exacerbating the crisis. 

As President, Elizabeth Warren will:

Direct the Federal Reserve to invoke its authority under Section 165 of Dodd-Frank to impose “enhanced prudential standards” –– things like higher capital standards, or tougher stress testing –– on large financial institutions based on their exposure to climate-related risks.
 

Treat climate change as the systemic risk to our financial system that it is and use existing financial regulations to push the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) to carefully examine the risks posed by climate change and use its authority to designate financial institutions as “systemically important” if appropriate.
 

Go beyond her Climate Risk Disclosure Plan by strengthening SEC rules that govern the climate change expertise in the composition of boards of directors, as well as in shareholder representation and disclosure in proxy voting. 
 

Elizabeth will also require U.S. banks to report annually how much fossil fuel equity and debt is created, and/or held as assets, with respect to all fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure.
 

Fight for pensions by pushing the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Labor –– the two government bodies charged with regulating pensions –– to declare carbon-intensive investments not consistent with a fund manager’s fiduciary duty to its clients.
 

Hold insurance companies accountable for the risk they’re spreading through the financial system — and through vulnerable communities — by working with Congress to make large insurance companies doing business in the U.S. disclose the size of the premiums they’re deriving from coal, oil and gas projects, associated infrastructure, and companies. 
 

Elizabeth will also investigate insurers who talk out of both sides of their mouth when they deny coverage to policyholders under the guise of too much climate risk, while simultaneously insuring fossil fuel projects.
 

Transition us away from Donald Trump’s climate-denying administration at a speed unmatched by any transition in modern history. As part of that transition, she will announce her choices for Cabinet, including a Treasury Secretary who understands the financial risks of the climate crisis, by December 1, 2020. And she will staff all senior and mid-level White House positions, like financial regulators, by Inauguration Day.
 

Work with international allies by:
 

Advocating for the Federal Reserve to join the global coalition of central banks known as the Network on Greening the Financial System
 

Requiring implementation of the Paris Climate accord and the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies as preconditions for any trade agreement. 
 

Dedicating $100 billion to helping other countries purchase and deploy American-made clean energy technology that is manufactured right here at home under the Green Marshall Plan.
 

Ending all American support for international oil and gas projects through the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. 
 

Committing to using America’s voting power in the World Bank and other global financial institutions to cut off investment in fossil fuel projects and to direct that investment into clean energy projects instead.

Read the plan here and below: 
 
Stop Wall Street from Financing the Climate Crisis 
 
I’ve spent most of my career getting to the bottom of what’s happening to working families in America. And when I saw the seeds of the 2008 financial crisis growing, I rang the alarm as loud as I could. But the people with the power to stop the crisis didn’t listen — not enough of them anyway. Not the banks, not Alan Greenspan or other federal regulators, not Congress. And when the financial crisis hit in 2008, working families lost it all while the big banks that broke the economy got a fat taxpayer bailout. 
 
And once again, as we face the existential threat of our time –– climate change –– Wall Street is refusing to listen, let alone take real action. 
 
Climate change threatens our financial system in two ways. First, it poses a physical risk to property as climate-fueled extreme weather events — floods, hurricanes, wildfires — become more and more frequent. Second, it poses transition risks to our economy: investments in the fossil fuel industry may abruptly lose value as we transition to a clean economy, posing risks of financial crisis and destabilization. If we remain on a pathway to 2°C of warming (right now we’re on track for roughly 3°C of warming), the costs to the financial system could reach as much as $69 trillion by 2100. Other estimates put the global economic losses caused by climate change at $23 trillion –– still roughly three or four times the scale of the 2008 crisis.
 
It’s clear that our entire financial system is in major danger from the climate crisis. And yet, neither the largest U.S. financial institutions, nor the public watchdogs that are supposed to hold them accountable, have taken adequate steps to address Wall Street’s role in exacerbating the crisis. In fact, many of the largest banks and asset managers have actually increased their holdings of fossil fuel assets since the Paris Agreement was signed. And in the two years immediately after the Paris Agreement was adopted, the six largest U.S. bank investors in fossil fuels companies loaned, underwrote, or otherwise financed over $700 billion for fossil fuel companies. Wall Street banks are making a quick buck accelerating climate change, all while communities across the country are suffering from the lasting impacts of industrial pollution and the increasingly devastating effects of climate change. 
 
There has been some movement by big financial firms. A recently leaked report from J.P. Morgan — the world’s largest financial backer of fossil fuel companies — stated that the climate crisis could lead to “catastrophic outcomes where human life as we know it is threatened.” Late last year, Goldman Sachs announced that it will spend $750 billion over ten years on sustainable finance projects, restrict financing to all new oil production and exploration in the Arctic, and impose stricter lending requirements for coal companies. And in a letter to investors earlier this year, Blackrock –– the world’s largest asset manager –– announced that it will exit investments with high environmental risk, like thermal coal, and launch new investment products that screen for fossil fuels. While these actions are a small step in the right direction, they are long overdue given the relative impact the financial industry has had on the climate crisis — and they’re not enough to protect us from a climate-fueled financial collapse, either. 
 
We will not defeat the climate crisis if we have to wait for the financial industry to self-regulate or come forward with piecemeal voluntary commitments. Winning a Green New Deal and achieving 100% clean energy for our global economy –– or enacting any of my 13 plans to defeat the climate crisis –– will be near impossible so long as large financial institutions are allowed to freely underwrite investments in dirty fossil fuels. 
 
This ends when I am president. A Warren administration will act decisively and swiftly to manage the risk that climate change poses to our economy by reining in Wall Street and ensuring our banks, asset managers, and insurers pay the true cost of climate change instead of passing it on to millions of Americans. We can make the financial system work for good as we transition to 100% clean energy, but first, we have to change the way Wall Street is currently doing business. 
 
Use existing financial regulations to tackle climate change because it is a systemic risk to our financial system
 
Foreign financial regulators understand that the climate crisis poses serious risks to the financial system. European regulators are warning of a “green swan” event that could trigger a climate change-driven financial crisis. The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, and the Governor of the Banque de France, François Villeroy warned that climate change poses a “catastrophic effect” to the global economy that could lead to “a sudden collapse in asset prices” similar to the to the 2008 financial crisis, and has urged central banks, such as the Federal Reserve Board, to play a much larger role in tackling the crisis. 
 
I am sounding the alarm on Wall Street once again –– just as I did in the lead up to the 2008 financial crash. 
 
The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was our country’s response to the 2008 crisis. It included tools that our federal regulators could use to protect the safety and soundness of our financial system. Regulators should use those tools now to address the systemic risk that climate change poses.
 
Specifically, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) –– a body created by Dodd-Frank to bring together heads of financial regulatory agencies to assess threats across jurisdictions and markets –– should carefully examine the risks posed by climate change and use its authority to designate financial institutions as “systemically important” if appropriate. And the Federal Reserve should invoke its authority under Section 165 of Dodd-Frank to impose “enhanced prudential standards” –– things like higher capital standards and margin requirement, or tougher stress testing –– on large financial institutions based on their climate-related risks.
 
By using the authorities Congress has already given them, federal regulators can mitigate the climate-related risk in our financial system and help accelerate the transition towards a clean energy economy.
 
Increase corporate accountability through the Securities & Exchange Commission
 
Publicly traded companies, including big banks, have an obligation to share important information about their business. But right now, these companies don’t share much about how climate change might affect their business, their customers, and their investors. 
 
That’s a problem in two ways. First, there are a lot of companies that could be badly hurt by the likely environmental effects of climate change, and their financial implications such as stranded assets, and supply-chain risk. We’ve already seen how record storms, flooding, and wildfires can cause billions of dollars in damage. Second, global efforts to combat climate change will have an enormous impact on certain types of companies, particularly those in the energy sector. The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures found that reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and increasingly affordable deployment of clean energy technology could have “significant, near-term financial implications” for Big Oil and fossil fuel companies.
 
My Climate Risk Disclosure plan addresses these problems by requiring companies to publicly disclose both of these types of climate-related risks. It directs the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to issue rules that make every public company disclose detailed information, including the likely effect on the company if climate change continues at its current pace and the likely effect on the company if the world successfully restricts greenhouse gas emissions to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement. My plan also requires the SEC to tailor these disclosure requirements for specific industries so that, for instance, fossil fuel companies will have to make even more detailed disclosures.
 
But disclosure is just the first step. There is more the SEC can do to ensure companies are more accurately accounting for climate risk, which is why a Warren administration will go further by strengthening SEC rules that govern the climate change expertise in the composition of boards of directors, as well as in shareholder representation and disclosure in proxy voting. My administration will also require U.S. banks to report annually how much fossil fuel equity and debt is created, and/or held as assets, with respect to all fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure. And a Warren administration will work with the SEC Office of Credit Ratings to direct credit rating agencies to impose process standards — like climate due diligences — that incorporate the physical and financial risks that climate change presents to securities and other financial assets, as well as to the companies that issue them.
 
Protect Pensions 
 
For the millions of public school teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other state and federal public employees who spend their careers in service to our government, pension funds provide a shot at a decent retirement. Most simply, pensions are deferred wages for our public employees. And yet today, our pension systems are failing our public employees. That’s in part because they are invested in fossil fuels –– leaving all the risk of fossil fuel investments in hard working Americans’ retirement accounts. 
 
One recent analysis found that pension funds would be significantly more successful without risky fossil investments. California’s $238 billion state teachers retirement fund CalSTRS –– which serves nearly a million public school teachers –– would have earned an additional $5.5 billion over ten years without its fossil fuel investments. And Colorado’s state pension fund PERA –– which serves 600,000 current and former teachers, state troopers, corrections officers, and other public employees –– would have earned almost $2 billion more in value. This matters for hard-working pension-holders: investments in fossil fuels over the last 10 years have lost many of California’s public school teachers $5,572 each, and cost many of Colorado’s public employees $2,900 each. And yet, despite calls from environmentalists to divest from fossil fuels, in January of this year CalSTRS rejected divestment, claiming it would have a “lasting negative impact on the health of the fund.” 
 
As president, I will fight for every person’s pension, because every American deserves the right to retire with dignity after spending their career in service of our local, state and federal government. A Warren administration would explicitly state policy preferences for limiting climate risk, beginning with divestment from fossil fuels and prioritizing investments in environmental, social and governance (ESG) options. And I would go further by pushing the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Labor –– the two government bodies charged with regulating pensions –– to declare carbon-intensive investments not consistent with a fund manager’s fiduciary duty to its clients.
 
And, as a matter of justice, we should tighten bankruptcy laws to prevent coal and other fossil fuel companies from evading their responsibility to their workers and to the communities that they have helped to pollute. In the Senate, I have fought to improve the standing of coal worker pensions and benefits in bankruptcy –– and as president, I will work with Congress to pass legislation to make these changes a reality. 
 
Ensure insurers accurately price climate risk 
 
Insurers are the financial intermediaries most directly exposed to climate change’s risks because their core business requires them to underwrite damages on physical property. As the climate crisis accelerates the size and scale of disasters, the models that insurers have long relied on are increasingly unpredictable, generating unprecedented losses. In 2017 and 2018 alone, insurance companies paid out an estimated $219 billion in natural disaster-related claims –– the highest for any two-year period in history. One California-based insurer filed for bankruptcy after it couldn’t pay out the millions it owed policyholders whose homes had been destroyed in California’s Camp Fire.
 
But despite insurance companies knowing the size of the climate risk — they literally write it into their risk models — still they fan the flames of the climate crisis by underwriting the fossil fuel companies behind the crisis. Large insurers had over $500 billion in fossil fuel-related investments as of 2016. And of the combined $15 trillion in assets managed by the world’s 80 largest insurers, an average of only one percent is allocated to low-carbon investments. If insurers stopped providing insurance for coal-fired power plants it would be nearly impossible to secure financing for new power plants.
 
Instead of halting the effects of climate change, insurers are passing on the high prices to consumers — or foregoing offering protection to vulnerable Americans altogether. In some places, insurance companies are pulling out of areas entirely, leaving consumers exposed. For example, the number of new and renewed homeowners’ insurance policies fell by 8,700 in California counties at greatest risk for wildfires. But some insurance providers will still write policies in vulnerable areas, ratcheting up the monthly prices consumers pay to counterbalance their increased risk. Premiums rose in every single state in the nation over the past decade, with states in tornado alley experiencing the highest jumps by an average of over $500. And private companies are taking advantage of the price increases: the number of private flood insurers has more than doubled since 2016, and they’ve taken in an additional half a billion in premiums since the prior year.
 
It’s time to hold insurance companies accountable for the risk they’re spreading through the financial system — and through vulnerable communities. I’ll work with Congress to make large insurance companies doing business in the U.S. disclose the size of the premiums they’re deriving from coal, oil and gas projects, associated infrastructure, and companies. I’ll investigate insurers who talk out of both sides of their mouth when they deny coverage to policyholders under the guise of too much climate risk, while simultaneously insuring fossil fuel projects. I’ll push the SEC to require insurance companies to show that they have evaluated climate-related risks in their underwriting processes and in their reserves. I will reform the National Flood Insurance Program by making it easier for existing residents to move out of flood-prone properties – both inland and coastal – including a program to buy back those properties from low-income homeowners at market value. And within my first term I will ensure the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood maps are fully updated, so that we can raise the standard for new construction through the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard.
 
Personnel is Policy
 
At the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, economic leaders from across the world highlighted the vital need to include climate risks in economic analysis. But Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin found himself in a minority of one, arguing that costs were being overestimated when considering the impacts of climate change. Either he’s uninformed or he’s lying: study after study shows that we are drastically underestimating the cost of the climate crisis. 
 
I have often said that personnel is policy. The regulators in charge of protecting the American people need to understand the risk that the climate crisis poses to our entire financial system — and the millions whose livelihoods depend on it. That’s why I will appoint at every level of the system financial regulators committed to holding financial institutions accountable for climate risk. Here’s what that means:  

I will appoint a Treasury Secretary who — unlike Steven Mnuchin — believes in the power of markets to help defeat the climate crisis: because right now, research in both of those fields shows how vital it is that we expose the climate risk. 
 

I’ll appoint financial regulators — including Federal Reserve governors, Commodity Futures Trading Commission commissioners, and leadership of every other agency represented on the Financial Stability Oversight Council — who understand the clear threat climate change poses to our financial system and who implement policy that addresses financial institutions’ exposure to climate risks and hold them accountable to addressing.
 

I’ve already pledged to appoint an SEC chair who will use all existing tools to require robust disclosure of climate-related risks. I’ll also appoint SEC commissioners who will manage the threat climate change poses to the economy by pushing for corporate disclosure of climate risk and a shift of finances away from fossil fuels. 

The size and the scope of the risk that climate poses to our financial system requires immediate action. I’ve committed to transitioning us away from Donald Trump’s climate-denying administration at a speed unmatched by any transition in modern history, so that we can begin tackling the urgent challenges ahead on Day One. As part of that transition, I will announce my choices for Cabinet, including a Treasury Secretary who understands the financial risks of the climate crisis, by December 1, 2020. And I’ll staff all senior and mid-level White House positions, like financial regulators, by Inauguration Day — so that we can begin de-risking our financial system from the moment I’m in office. 
 
Work with international allies
 
One of the next catastrophic global financial crises may well be caused by the growing climate crisis. The 2008 recession proved how financial crises are no longer isolated: their impact echoes across countries. That’s why addressing the financial risks of the climate crisis is an international issue. But the United States isn’t just lagging behind other countries on addressing the climate risk: right now, we’re not even in the same league. 
 
Leaders across the globe recognize the risk that the climate crisis poses to their financial systems: environmental concerns make up the top five long-term global economic risks for leaders surveyed in the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2020. Manymany other countries have not only recognized the risk but are already taking steps to address it. The President of the European Central Bank has called for climate change to be an “essential part of monetary policymaking,” and the Bank of England has introduced stress tests to assess the UK financial system’s exposure to climate-linked financial risks. Meanwhile, Donald Trump and his fossil fuel cronies are letting the U.S. fall behind, putting the financial well-being of millions of Americans at risk. 
 
A Warren Administration will work with international allies to build a more resilient financial and environmental future for our planet. And I’ll use every tool in the box to build that world. As President I’ll advocate for the Federal Reserve to join the global coalition of central banks known as the Network on Greening the Financial System. As we transition to a 100% clean energy economy, the United States should be a leader on the global stage, and having a seat at the table is the first step. As part of my New Approach to Trade, I will require implementation of the Paris Climate accord and the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies as preconditions for any trade agreement. My Green Marshall Plan will dedicate $100 billion to helping other countries purchase and deploy American-made clean energy technology that is manufactured right here at home. And we should end all American support for international oil and gas projects through the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. We should also commit to using America’s voting power in the World Bank and other global financial institutions to cut off investment in fossil fuel projects and to direct that investment into clean energy projects instead. Our efforts should be dedicated to accelerating the global transition to clean energy.

NYS Makes $4.3 Million in Grants to Reduce Food Waste, Help Hungry New Yorkers & Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Following a Gold Coast International Film Festival screening of the documentary “Wasted! The Story of Food Waste,” panelelists discussed the issue of food waste, how it directly contributes to climate change, and what the state, local community and individuals can do to help solve one of the greatest problems of the 21st century. The panel consisted of Randi Shubin Dresner, president & CEO of Island Harvest, Halie Meyers chief of staff representing NYS Senator Todd Kaminsky and NYS Assemblyman Steve Englebright. Not shown, Kendrick Repko, Brand Lead, Sustainable Retailing for Stop & Shop. The documentary, from executive producer Anthony Bourdain, gives persuasive argument and offers realistic solutions for changing the way food is raised, distributed, stored, processed, purchased, cooked and recycled. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State has made $4.3 million in grants for 111 projects across the state that will help prevent hunger and reduce the disposal of food waste though food donation and recycling. The grants will support efforts by municipalities and organizations, such as pantries and soup kitchens, to help divert scraps for recycling and reduce the amount of organic waste by redirecting excess, edible food to New Yorkers struggling with food insecurity.

“Wasted food hurts needy families facing the terrible challenges of food insecurity and harms the environment by growing landfills and contributing to climate change,” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said“These awards are the latest step New York is taking to help local governments and community organizations support smart investments that prevent food waste, reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by food disposal, and provide nutritious and healthy food to combat hunger across New York State.”

Wasted food has significant environmental, social, and economic impacts and these grants help support municipalities and emergency food relief organizations by improving food rescue efforts and diverting food scraps from disposal in landfills. Reducing the landfilling of food scraps is also recognized as a valuable mitigation measure in the state’s ongoing fight against climate change. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will administer the grants.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “It is a sad fact that Americans waste about 25 percent of the food purchased, leading to negative impacts on our environment and a waste of food resources that could otherwise be used to help people in need. The projects supported by the grants announced today are a combination of public outreach initiatives and innovative, common-sense approaches to promoting food recycling, helping the hungry, and reducing waste to build stronger, healthier, and environmentally sustainable communities.”

Municipal Food Scraps Reduction, Food Donation, and Food Scraps Recycling Grants

DEC is awarding a total of $3.28 million in grants to 27 municipal projects that will use innovative and comprehensive approaches to support wasted food prevention and reduction initiatives, streamline food donation and rescue efforts, and/or develop organics recycling programs and facilities. Many projects involve strategic partnerships with community-based organizations to reduce the volume of wasted food and food scraps entering the municipal waste stream. This is accomplished through the development and implementation of wasted food reduction education and outreach programs and by establishing municipal composting and other organics recycling infrastructure. Among the highlights of the municipal grant projects:

  • City of Cortland $195,936: The funding will support the Cortland Food Project Rescue and Waste Prevention, a comprehensive community education campaign focused on wasted food prevention and reduction. The city will develop and implement Cortland’s first local food rescue system and volunteer network to seek out large quantities of “past prime” produce that program staff and volunteers will be trained to process into value-added food products. The city will then coordinate with existing local hunger projects, such as food pantries, soup kitchens, and the planned commercial community kitchen and entrepreneurship program to be located at the Homer Avenue Revitalization Project site;
  • Town of Ossining $99,145: The town will create a comprehensive food scraps recycling pilot program to serve approximately 38,300 residents and neighboring areas. The town will: purchase collection bins for several public sites, including nearby Environmental Justice communities and for residential home use; develop informational materials to include in the kits residents will use in their homes; and Teatown Lake Reservation will begin community education events and programming regarding food waste prevention and reduction, composting, and the town-run food scrap recycling program;
  • Tompkins County $70,426: The county will address wasted food prevention and food donation by targeting apartment complexes and multifamily units in the county. The project will educate tenants and property managers, focusing on smart shopping, smart storage, and smart food prep; site a food hub cooler for sharing excess edible food, with leftover donations going to Friendship Donations Network (FDN) for further distribution throughout the Tompkins County community; provide tenants with free toolkits to collect food scraps from their kitchens for composting; and develop “kitchen to compost” educational materials; and
  • Village of Sleepy Hollow $11,286: The village will develop and launch a comprehensive food scraps recycling program that includes: education efforts and materials that are accessible for all residents, despite income or language barriers; create a food scraps recycling program that offers 500 free starter kits (countertop food scraps collection pail and storage bin) to residents for composting; and create outreach materials designed to reach all demographics in the village, including Spanish-language translations, and engaging low-income residents and seniors in the participation of the project.

Emergency Food Relief Organization Grants

Food pantries and other local emergency food relief organizations are on the front lines when it comes to helping those in need. These organizations often rely on donations of food through partnerships with local businesses, farms, and other food donors to supplement their inventories of wholesome food. However, as many of these food pantries and organizations are volunteer-run and have limited funds, they often do not have the resources to establish these partnerships or purchase the necessary storage equipment and vehicles to transport donated perishable foods. Due to these challenges, highly nutritious, perishable food that is ready to be distributed to food pantries and soup kitchens — such as fresh produce ­— often goes to waste, despite the efforts of donors and food rescue organizations.

DEC is funding 84 projects with $1.1 million to support projects including: hiring food recovery staff focused on developing donation partnerships; purchasing efficient cold storage equipment; kitchen equipment to prepared rescued, perishable produce; vehicles to transport rescued food; and the implementation of hyper-local perishable and prepared food recovery and distribution networks. In addition, several projects include the establishment of nutrition and cooking classes to help them use the food they receive from the pantries most efficiently. These classes and workshops help clients reduce wasted food and stretch limited food budgets. Highlighted grant projects include:

  • Iris House $13,720: Iris House in Central Harlem will use the funds to support efforts to distribute food closer to the residents of East Harlem in New York City. Iris House will use part of the grant funds to cover the operation costs of a van to transport food pantry bag distribution to pop-up locations in East Harlem to save residents the costs of transportation to Central Harlem. Iris House will also develop and distribute brochures about nutrition and to advertise their services and provide information about free food availability;
  • Second Chance Foods $15,000: Second Chance Foods is not-for-profit food rescue organization in Carmel, New York, that will use the grant to support the salary of a kitchen manager to process rescued food into cooked meals or prepare parts of meals to donate to local food programs. By processing rescued food such as blemished produce and unfamiliar foods, Second Chance Foods makes more rescued food “usable” by soup kitchen managers and pantry clients, preventing wasted food and increasing the amount of wholesome food available to people;
  • Comfort Food of Washington County, Inc. $12,420: Comfort Food Community serves a rural county with limited access to grocery stores and a significant percent of the population in poverty. CFC will hire a seasonal Food Recovery Assistant to improve gleaning efforts at the 35 farms in their service area through volunteer recruitment and management, as well as coordinating and supervising rescue efforts. The Food Recovery Assistant will also work on outreach and education elements of the Fresh Food Collective. CFC will also use these grant funds to dedicate staff time to developing recipe cards and coordinated meal kits for the gleaned produce to help ensure that recipients of the produce are able to use all of it properly and incorporate more nutritious food into their diets; and
  • Pitney Meadows Community Farm, Inc. $15,000: Pitney Meadows Community Farm, Inc., is not-for-profit organization in Saratoga Springs dedicated to urban agriculture, farmland conservation, community empowerment, and increasing access to fresh, healthy produce. The farm will install a “Giving Garden” dedicated to growing food for food pantries and will use the grant to hire a farm manager to oversee the Giving Garden and associated donation partnerships; construct a wash/pack station to properly prepare freshly harvested vegetables in a safe, reliable, and convenient way; and install a walk-in cooler to store food before it is donated to local pantries.

A complete list of awardees/grantees and summaries of projects is available at the DEC website. For more information about how to reduce food waste in all New York households: https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/98102.html.

New York State has long been committed to the fight against hunger and Governor Cuomo has launched groundbreaking initiatives and programs in recent years, including the Council on Hunger and Food Policy, Vital Brooklyn, and the No Student Goes Hungry initiative to combat hunger, improve access to healthy, locally grown foods, and bring New York-grown foods and beverages to underserved communities. The grants announced today also build upon the success of the 2019 Food Donations and Food Scraps Recycling law signed by the Governor, that requires all designated food scraps generators to first donate edible food to those in need, and secondly, to recycle food scraps if a viable recycling facility is located within 25 miles. In response to this crucial legislation, DEC has provided $800,000 to Feeding New York State for additional resources to handle the anticipated influx of donated food.

The grant announcement was made at the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York in Latham, to help prepare New Yorkers for the statewide ban on plastic carryout bags, which begins March 1. DEC, in coordination with Feeding New York State, will distribute reusable bags to food banks across the state as part of DEC’s efforts to encourage consumers to bring their own bags whenever and wherever they shop. Feeding New York State helps feed millions of people each year through more than 5,000 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and other programs.

The BYOBagNY initiative is part of New York’s comprehensive outreach campaign with state and local partners to educate retailers and consumers about the plastic bag ban, which will help reduce the scourge of plastic bag waste in the state’s environment and communities. New Yorkers use an estimated 23 billion plastic bags annually—each for about 12 minutes—and approximately 85 percent of this staggering total ends up in landfills, recycling machines, waterways, and streets. For more information about the outreach efforts and details of the law’s implementation, visit DEC’s website.

Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez Announce The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act

Senator Bernie Sanders, along with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, here at a rally in Queens, New York, presented the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act to address the shortage of public housing in a way that also attacks climate change by transitioning to sustainable buildings.© Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Bernie Sanders, along with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, presented the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act to address the shortage of public housing in a way that also attacks climate change by transitioning to sustainable buildings. Here is the plan from the Sanders campaign:

WASHINGTON – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), in an event outside the Capitol Building, announced the introduction of the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act in partnership with public housing residents, affordable housing advocates, and climate change activists. The sweeping legislation they will unveil aims to retrofit, rehabilitate, and decarbonize the entire nation’s public housing stock.
 
The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act invests up to $180 billion over ten years in sustainable retrofits that include all needed repairs, vastly improved health, safety and comfort, and eliminate carbon emissions in our federal public housing. The legislation also provides funding to electrify all buildings, add solar panels, and secure renewable energy sources for all public housing energy needs. The bill dramatically improves living conditions for nearly 2 million people living in roughly 1 million public homes.
 
“Faced with the global crisis of climate change, the United States must lead the world in transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel to sustainable energy,” said Sanders. “But let us be clear: as Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez understands, the Green New Deal is not just about climate change. It is an economic plan to create millions of good-paying jobs, strengthen our infrastructure, and invest in our country’s frontline and vulnerable communities. This bill shows that we can address our climate and affordable housing crises by making public housing a model of efficiency, sustainability and resiliency. Importantly, the working people who have been most impacted by decades of disinvestment in public housing will be empowered to lead this effort and share in the economic prosperity that it generates for our country.”
 
“Climate change represents both a grave threat and a tremendous opportunity,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act will train and mobilize the workforce to decarbonize the public housing stock and improve the quality of life for all residents. I am proud to begin the hard work of codifying the Green New Deal into law with my friend and colleague, Senator Bernie Sanders.”
 
About 40 percent of total U.S. energy consumption is attributable to residential and commercial buildings. With its focus on transforming 1 million units of federally owned housing, the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act will spur economies of scale for weatherization, retrofitting, and renewable energy, making them more cost effective and attractive throughout the country. The legislation is expected to create nearly 250,000 good-paying, union jobs per year across the country while reducing carbon emissions on the scale of taking 1.2 million cars off the road over the next ten years. Public housing costs would also be reduced by $97 million per year, or 30 percent, and energy costs would be slashed by $613 million, or 70 percent.
 
The legislation envisions a federal-state partnership, creating new grant programs to swiftly and efficiently transition public housing, tribal housing, and Native Hawaiian housing to zero-carbon, energy efficient housing. The bill creates sustainable communities for families by building new childcare and senior centers, expanding access to clean transit, and creating community gardens and other community amenities. Under the legislation, public housing will receive deep energy retrofits, build community-generated renewable electricity, and upgrade unsafe and unsanitary infrastructure, including buildings’ water and electrical systems.
 
The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act requires that the hundreds of thousands of jobs created by this investment be high-road, family-sustaining jobs by requiring strong labor standards, prevailing wages, and “Buy America” requirements. Public housing residents will lead the decision-making process for these investments and receive jobs training for the newly created jobs from this legislation.
 
The bill is cosponsored in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and endorsed by more than 50 organizations.

Read the bill summary here.

Read the legislative text here.

Read a section-by-section overview here.

Read organizational statements of support here.

UN Climate Action Summit: World Forges Ahead with Climate Action – Without Trump But Not Without States United

At the UN Climate Action Summit, Governor Janet Mills (center) challenged leaders of the world to take action against climate change, saying the State of Maine will do its part and announcing that she has signed an Executive Order committing the state to carbon neutrality by 2045. Spiting Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, 25 states have formed the US Climate Alliance © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

There was the sense at the United Nations Climate Action Summit that took place September 23, that the Trump Administration – but not the United States – is irrelevant to the crusade to mitigate the most devastating impacts of climate change. Indeed, the rest of the world, American states, localities and businesses, is forging full steam ahead to prevent the earth from warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius – and all the devastation that would result – within the next 12 years.

“We know why tackling climate change is important”, said Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed before the Climate Action Summit began. “The devastation wreaked by Dorian on the Bahamas, what the Secretary-General called a Category Hell hurricane, is a glimpse into one aspect of a future powered by climate change – a future with super storms that grow in intensity and frequency, where those countries with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions, continue to feel the worst impacts of the planet’s rising temperatures.”

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed: “The summit will present practical and new measures, speed transition from coal to clean energy, cut pollution harming health, protect nature, unlock the potential of nature to deliver on climate, create cleaner greener waste, speed up transition from grey to green economies, mitigate impacts of climate change, leave no one behind, transition must be ramped up now.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com  

“The summit will present practical and new measures, speed transition from coal to clean energy, cut pollution harming health, protect nature, unlock the potential of nature to deliver on climate, create cleaner greener waste, speed up transition from grey to green economies, mitigate impacts of climate change, leave no one behind, transition must be ramped up now,” she said at a press briefing before the summit.

The Climate Action Summit was designed to showcase only the boldest, transformative actions – specifics, not hyperbole or speechifying.  

“We will see what climate leadership looks like – progress toward carbon neutral future.”

Trump snubbed the summit, choosing instead to host a Religious Freedom Forum, and highlighted America’s military might but did not mention climate change once, in his address to the General Assembly. But just about every other leader did refer to the critical need and their commitment to climate action in their speech.

King Hussein of Jordan tells the UN General Assembly, What will our world become if we do not work together for a healthy and safe climate. We already know the dangers of climate change – how can we excuse [inaction]” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com  

“Can we afford to ignore the crisis of extinction, or will we do the right thing, support energies and talents of all the world’s youth and drive all the economies forward to fair and inclusive society?” Abdullah II bin AlHussein, King of Jordan, declared. “What will our world become if we do not work together for a healthy and safe climate. We already know the dangers of climate change – how can we excuse [inaction]”

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, president of Croatia, declared, “Climate change- rising sea levels – is the greatest threat. Without protection of waters and marine life, there will be nothing to leave.”

Russia, one of the few holdouts and one of the world’s largest carbon emitters with an economy largely based on fossil fuel extraction and export, used the occasion to officially adopt the Paris Climate Agreement. The document signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says Russia will now “allocate financial resources… to developing countries for prevention and adaptation to climate change. The threat of climate change is (the) destruction of the ecological balance, increased risks for successful development of key industries… and most importantly, threat to safety of people living on permafrost and increase of natural disasters.”

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, president of Croatia, tells the General Assembly, “Climate change- rising sea levels – is the greatest threat. Without protection of waters and marine life, there will be nothing to leave.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com  

Governor Janet Mills of Maine challenged leaders of the world to take action against climate change, saying the State of Maine will do its part and announcing that she has signed an Executive Order committing the state to carbon neutrality by 2045.

Separately, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced New York State is pursuing partnerships with Ireland and Denmark that will lead to improved electric infrastructure and the advancement of more renewable energy sources, including offshore wind. The agreements were announced during Climate Week and will advance both New York’s nation-leading plan to combat climate change and the Governor’s Green New Deal agenda. This summer, Governor Cuomo signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which mandates New York’s power be 100 percent clean and carbon-free by 2040. New York is one of 25 states including California that have formed the US Climate Alliance (USclimatealliance.org)  to uphold the Paris Agreement. – collectively representing over 50% of the US population and  60% of the United States’ GDP.

Mohammed acknowledged that the transition “is not one-size fits all – in some countries, renewable energy is already cheaper than coal; others need funding options. It’s not enough that we stop funding coal and actively move to making renewable possible –there is tension there. We must be realistic – you can’t click fingers and create a renewable grid overnight but we also determined there are over 100 coal plants in pipeline and emissions are still rising – that pathway is a serious threat to human survival.”

Informed by the perspectives of more than 130 Governments, a newly issued report, The Heat is On – Taking Stock of Global Climate Ambition, reveals that business as usual, is not good enough and requires more mitigation, adaptation and finance – all which must be done quickly.

 “When I look back on this Climate Action Summit, I want us to see it as a sling shot – that helped to change our common trajectory towards sustainability”, said Ms. Mohammed, building trust “between this generation of adults and the next – between our children and ourselves – that we are all working together to our fullest potential to tackle the climate emergency”.

She recapped that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report stressed the need to ensure that “the global temperature rise does not go beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius” through “cutting emissions by 45 per cent by 2030”, warning that “we have very little time to take the decisions needed to get there”.

Those decisions should be set out in each country’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) on climate change, which she called “the cornerstone of the Paris Agreement”.

“The world’s poorest 1 billion, we are least responsible for climate crisis – emitting less than 1% of global emissions,  yet, our small gross national incomes and limited resources means we suffer the most,” said Sonam P. Wangdi, Secretary of the National Environment Commission, Bhutan.

The United States, with only 5% of the population is responsible for 25% of carbon emissions, and the present administration, which hides behind science denial in order to preserve the status quo of their economic systems, will have a huge impact on whether the efforts made by 190 countries succeed in preserving the planet. But though the government was a no-show at the Climate Action Summit, states, localities and business interests were on hand, offering their commitments so that the United States will achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement led by Obama and rejected by Trump.

Indeed, it was just as if the world has moved on, rendering the United States irrelevant. The thought of holding the US accountable for reparations when an island nation like the Bahamas is devastated by Hurricane Dorian, was discounted. “Who would enforce a decision?” said Wilfred P. Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Belize, a statement made from the experience of Trinidad & Tobago which won a judgment against the US in the World Trade Organization that has yet to be paid.

Small Island Developing States are stepping up and striking back.

Wilfred P. Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Belize, recalled the devastation he went through as a boy of 4 when a category 4 hurricane hit his village. “From one moment being in a safe, secure structure or building, the next to be completely out in environment with absolutely nothing – you have absolutely nothing.”  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com  

“The recent activity of Dorian in Bahamas – devastated that island, and unless you really have experience this kind of devastation it is hard to appreciate how difficult, how absolutely destructive it is,” said Elrington, recalling his own terror at the age of 4 years old when a Category 4 hurricane hit. “From one moment being in a safe, secure structure or building, the next to be completely out in environment with absolutely nothing – you have absolutely nothing – no clothes, medicine, food, completely at the mercy of God. We think of the damage to human beings and the destruction, but equally tragic is the destruction done to floral and fauna – exceedingly depressing to see the entire landscape devastated and and of course, does not come back quickly.”

Apart from saving habitats, climate mitigation and adaptation has the added benefit of addressing poverty and inequality, in part perpetuated by the cost – and reliance –on fossil fuels as the basis for an economy. Shifting to clean, renewable like solar, wind, water, geothermal, lowers the expenditure and increases the independence from concentrated utility companies. Eliminating fossil fuels also reduces pollution and improves health.

But with worldwide pressure – by citizens and consumers – the private sector is being forced to take action as well.  Sixteen countries are phasing out gasoline-powered cars over the next several years, rendering US-manufactured cars unexportable, regardless of how Trump attempts to overturn California’s call for higher fuel efficiency standards and lower emissions.

Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment

Just announced, “first of its kind,” Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment “will transform mainstream infrastructure investment and drive a  permanent shift toward climate resilient economy for all countries, but especially for low and mid income countries which bear the brunt,” said John Haley, CEO, Willis Towers Watson, one of the world’s largest insurance companies. One of the ways it will change the way money is invested in business ventures and infrastructure is by creating new data analytics that incorporate the cost-benefit of climate adaptation, mitigation and resiliency into the model. “Rapid advancement in data analytics, coupled in momentum of regulatory initiatives and growing pressure from global society is what allows this initiative to be as ambitious as it is.”

“Pricing the risks posed by climate change will create opportunities to build a network of resilient infrastructure in high, medium and low-income countries, enabling us to better prevent future human and financial disasters,” says John Haley, CEO, Willis Towers Watson, introducing a newly formed Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com  

He said, “I come from the world of insurance. We work on a lot of analytical tools to price the effect of climate disasters. We will take those kind of analytical tools and build them into understanding what kind of investments we should make in infrastructure – measure the impacts of climate on infrastructure everywhere in the world – more important in vulnerable communities but everywhere in the world [including US, where former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has been saying the very thing in pushing for a carbon tax].

“Pricing the risks posed by climate change will create opportunities to build a network of resilient infrastructure in high, medium and low-income countries, enabling us to better prevent future human and financial disasters.”

The coalition will develop case studies to build the business case, and identify the critical enabling environments, for climate resilient infrastructure investment. 

By the end of 2020, analytical tools including a physical risk pricing framework and methodology to prioritize national resilient investment needs, will be developed, alongside a range of instruments to prevent capital flight from vulnerable regions.

Biggest Names in Video Game Industry Commit to Climate Action

Jim Ryan, President and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment and Phil Spencer, executive vice president of gaming at Microsoft are among the 21 gaming companies that have joined the Playing for the Planet Alliance, vowing to reduce carbon emissions and spark awareness and engagement in climate action among their collective 970 million gamers © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com  

And, in a major mind-blowing commitment, 21 of the biggest names in the video games industry, with a combined audience of 970 million players, formally committed to harness the power of their platforms to take action in response to the climate crisis. Combined, these commitments will result in a 30 million ton reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030, will see millions of trees planted, new “green nudges” in game design and improvements to energy management, packaging, and device recycling. Equally significantly, under the banner of Playing for the Planet Alliance, many will incorporate sustainability and climate action into the games, themselves, letting gamers, for example, toy with building sustainable societies.

These voluntary commitments were announced during the UN Climate Action Summit. CEOs from 14 platforms and games makers, including Sony Interactive Entertainment, Microsoft, Google Stadia, Rovio, Supercell, Sybo, Ubisoft and WildWorks, were present to showcase their commitments. The Alliance intends to support companies in sharing learning and monitoring progress on the environmental agenda.

A full list of the announcements and commitments made at the Climate Summit can be found at www.un.org/climatechange

See also:

Nations, Private Sector Pledge Commitments to Climate Action at UN Summit

Youth Climate Activist Greta Thunberg to UN Climate Summit: ‘If You Choose to Fail Us, I Say We Will Never Forgive You’

Climate Activist Greta Thunberg Tells 250,000 at NYC Climate Strike: ‘We demand a safe future’

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© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin