Biden Makes Day One Climate Action Official; What’s in Store?

by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer

Today, on day one of his presidency, President Joe Biden is expected to pass a series of executive orders, including returning to the Paris Climate Agreement and completely scrapping the Keystone XL Pipeline. The incoming President’s transition team promised that executive action priorities would focus on immediately addressing COVID-19, combating climate change, supporting underserved communities, as well as revitalizing our economy. 

Climate advocates hope it doesn’t end there and that Biden will make good on some other day-one promises he’s made in the past months.

Why This Matters: During his administration, Donald Trump rolled back over 100 environmental regulations, and has only accelerated his scorched-earth agenda in the final days of his presidency. In an onslaught of new rules, the Trump administration has rolled back protections for wildlife, opened public lands to drilling, and overturned Obama-era legislation that increased the royalties fossil fuel companies must pay the government. In the first days of his presidency, Biden has the power to undo this damage via executive orders, but the new President has a lot on his plate.

So, what are Biden’s day one climate priorities?

Executive orders returning to the Paris Agreement and scrapping the Keystone XL pipeline are expected, but over the course of his campaign, Biden made other day-one climate promises as well. 

  • Biden promised to sign executive order to create a plan to achieve a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions by 2050 and
  • sign an executive order “to conserve 30% of America’s lands and waters by 2030.”  

Furthermore, he has promised that in his first 100 days, he will organize a “Climate World Summit” that will address global supply chain emissions and put pressure on China to end coal subsidies. He’s also made promises to implement new green infrastructure projects that will create clean energy jobs across the country. As the nation grapples with a growing pandemic it is yet to be seen how much political capital the incoming administration will be able to expend on climate action. There will also be an obstacle in incoming Senate Energy and Public Works Committee Chairman Joe Manchin stating that he could stand as an impediment to progressive climate legislation. 


In a telephone call Friday Morning, national environmental, business, justice, and public health leaders were optimistic that Biden’s climate agenda would take an intersectional approach, tackling environmental justice, healthcare, and employment. That hope only grows with the cancellation of Keystone, which was heavily protested by Indigenous groups and environmentalists. The move would send a strong signal that the new administration would center environmental justice in its climate policy objectives. 


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