How Green Is Joe Biden?

Photo: Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times

Joe Biden, the latest candidate to join the Presidential race, has yet to say where he stands on many of the issues, like the Green New Deal, President Trump’s regulatory rollbacks, and oil and gas drilling on federal land, to name just a few of today’s most hot button issues.  We took a look at his record — what he has said about climate change and how he voted on various environmental legislation when he was in the Senate. Here are the highlights.  He introduced the first legislation — in 1986 — to establishing a Task Force to study climate change and come up with a plan to address it.  He has a lifetime score of 83/100 by the League of Conservation Voters.  As Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he held numerous hearings on climate change in the 2000s and he pushed for ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty, one of the most significant environmental agreements ever negotiated, which the U.S. never joined.

We learned most about his current views from a speech to the Conference of Mayors in January of this year, in which he dedicated most of his remarks to the topic of climate change and its impacts, and clean energy.  He said we knew we needed a “green revolution”  ten years ago and “understood the “urgency in terms of people’s health, economic growth, and quality of life” and the “opportunity” this provides.

He concluded by saying that “the point is this is really important and it is in our power to stem this”  and “we need leaders who understand this is the most urgent priority facing the nation and we will be judged by our children and grandchildren by what we do today.”

Why This Matters:  Joe Biden’s record as a Senator on environment and conservation issues was rock solid.  More importantly, though, his record as Vice President will give him a long list of climate and conservation accomplishments to tout — many of which he was personally involved in because of the stimulus package early on, and then later in the second term because of the diplomacy around the Paris Agreement.  These accomplishments may come as a surprise to many who know him better for his work on trying to find a cure for cancer, gun control, and foreign policy generally.  He is optimistic that we can meet the challenge of climate change — but will his optimism seem to minimize the urgency and extent of the climate challenge?  We will see.

To Go Deeper:  Watch the final 17 minutes of the Conference of Mayor speech — begin at minute 14.

Up Next

Congressional Democrats & Biden Administration Move Towards Passing Largest Climate Investment in US History

Congressional Democrats & Biden Administration Move Towards Passing Largest Climate Investment in US History

By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Late last week, President Biden and a critical mass of Democrats in the Senate and House agreed on the details of Build Back Better legislation — a $1.85 trillion overall investment that includes a record-setting  $555 billion dollars to take on the climate crisis.    The agreement marked a […]

Continue Reading 502 words
Big Oil Testifies in Congress about Decades of Disinformation

Big Oil Testifies in Congress about Decades of Disinformation

By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor Top executives from Big Oil companies ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, and Shell testified before Congress yesterday amid accusations and revelations about their industry’s efforts to mislead the public about human-caused climate change while claiming to be in favor of climate action. A report released Thursday morning by the House Committee […]

Continue Reading 542 words
UN Says Climate Pledges Are Too Weak to Stop Warming

UN Says Climate Pledges Are Too Weak to Stop Warming

By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer As the world gets ready for COP26 in Glasgow next week, many nations are upping their pledges to lower emissions before 2030. But according to a UN report released Tuesday, even if Argentina, Britain, Canada, the EU, South Africa, and the US achieve their pledged goals, it would account […]

Continue Reading 326 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.