European Climate Leaders Welcome Biden Win

By Ashira Morris, ODP Contributing Writer

Even before the election was called by the major networks for Joe Biden, climate-focused European politicians and elected officials were among the first to congratulate the President-elect on his victory. It’s a welcome change after four years of the Trump administration’s environmental disdain, which extended beyond American borders. The climate crisis is a global issue, and the US is the all-time worst emitter. Biden’s win puts the goals of the Paris Agreement back “within striking distance,” according to experts associated with the Climate Action Tracker.  Biden has promised that rejoining will be one of his first acts in office.

Why This Matters: Currently, the US is one of only a very few countries not committed to the global effort to curb emissions and keep rising temperatures in check. When the US announced it was leaving the Paris Agreement, European leaders expressed regrets and carried on, but a Biden administration means a return to international climate collaboration. Having a president who not only acknowledges the science of climate change but has an ambitious plan of action is “a 180-degree turn,” as the Washington Post wrote.  And given where things stand with this crisis, there is no time to waste.

Will A Summit Help?  Thunberg Wants More

The Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks have increased American emissions and harmed our public health, making it easier for companies to pollute our air and water. The Biden administration is expected to reverse the environmental rollbacks and reinstate regulations. Biden has also said he’ll host a “climate world summit” to convince leaders of high-emitting countries to take action beyond their current commitments.  In a recent interview with the Guardian, Greta Thunberg called out international climate summits as “empty words and greenwash.” She criticized leaders for being comfortable setting targets 30 or 40 years in the future, like the UK, China, and Japan’s recent carbon-neutral pledges, but failing to act immediately.  

So the first thing we need to do is understand we are in an emergency [and] admit the fact that we have failed – humanity collectively has failed – because you can’t solve a crisis that you don’t understand,” Thunberg saidCurrently, even the planned emission reductions from “climate progressive” countries like the UK and Sweden fail to meet Paris targets“The climate crisis is just one symptom of a much larger crisis, [including] the loss of biodiversity, the loss of fertile soil but also including inequality and threats to democracy,” she said. “These are symptoms that we are not living sustainably: we have reached the end of the road.”

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