President Biden on Wednesday took a host of executive actions centered around promoting environmental justice, building a green economy, and fostering what he calls a “whole of government” approach to taking on the climate crisis. The actions amount to a top-to-bottom overhaul of the government’s approach to what the president has called the “number one issue facing humanity.”
“It’s about jobs. It’s about workers. It’s about building our economy back better than before,” Biden said prior to signing the orders. “It’s a whole of government approach to putting climate change at the center of our domestic, national security, and foreign policy. It’s advancing conservation, revitalizing communities and cities and farmland, and ensuring environmental justice.”
Here are some of the actions Biden took on Wednesday:
- He directed the Department of the Interior to pause all new oil and gas leasing on federal lands, and to launch a “rigorous” review of all existing fossil-fuel leases. He also directed the DOI to conserve 30 percent of all federal land and water by 2030.
- He called for federal agencies to eliminate fossil-fuel subsidies.
- He classified the climate crisis as a national security and foreign policy priority, ensuring it will now factor into decision-making on both fronts.
- He announced he will convene a climate summit of world leaders on April 22nd.
- He created a White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy; a National Climate Task Force that will include leaders from 21 federal agencies; a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative; an Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization; a White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council; a White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council; and a President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
- He made John Kerry’s role as the new Special Envoy for Climate official. Same goes for Gina McCarthy’s gig as the first National Climate Advisor. Kerry will have a seat on the National Security Council, and McCarthy will head up the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy.
- He directed federal agencies to “procure carbon pollution-free electricity and clean, zero-emission vehicles to create good-paying, union jobs and stimulate clean energy industries,” and to develop plans “to increase the resilience of its facilities and operations.”
- He created a Justice40 Initiative tasked with 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 actions on Wednesday aren’t the first Biden has taken to combat the climate crisis. Hours after he was inaugurated, he moved to rejoin the Paris Agreement, an order that will take effect within 30 days. He also revoked the permit Trump awarded to the operators of the Keystone XL Pipeline, and ordered all agencies and departments to conduct a review of actions taken by the previous administration “that were harmful to public health, damaging to the environment, unsupported by the best available science, or otherwise not in the national interest.”