How Joe Biden Aims to Center Climate Action in Foreign Policy

Image: Matthew J. Lee/Boston Globe

As Axios reported yesterday based on insight received from the Biden campaign: foreign policy will look drastically different if Joe Biden defeats President Trump in November— starting with a Day One announcement that the U.S. is re-entering the Paris Climate Agreement and new global coordination of the coronavirus response.

Why This Matters: Even though most countries aren’t meeting their Paris Climate Agreement goals, and many experts argue that the framework does not do nearly enough to curb emissions quicky enough, having the world’s second-biggest emitter of CO2 reenter the climate solution space is a critical step.

In fact, new forecasts from the World Meteorological Organization show there is a slight chance the annual global temperature will be 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) warmer than preindustrial levels for the first time within one of the next five years.

That figure is important because it’s a target countries agreed to in the 2015 Paris climate agreement, underscoring the urgency with which the global community must act on climate. According to that same report, meeting the Paris Agreement in its current form will be exceedingly difficult, which is why it’s crucial that the United States signal to the rest of the world that it’s ready to throw its full foreign policy weight behind climate action.

As Axios further reported, Colin Kahl, a former Biden aide who is familiar with his views, said if Biden is elected, “Day One is making sure that our approach to COVID and the associated economic crisis is coordinated internationally.”

At the top of the agenda at the outset will be signaling to our closes democratic allies that we’re back, that alliances and partnerships matter,” Kahl said.

Biden’s Climate Commitment: Part of what made former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential climate plan unique among his primary competitors is that it focused on incorporating climate action into American foreign policy. He states in that plan that he “will fully integrate climate change into our foreign policy and national security strategies, as well as our approach to trade.”

And although Biden hasn’t stated whether or not he will personally attend the next UN Climate meeting, his plan does call for the convening of a climate world summit to directly engage the leaders of the major carbon-emitting nations of the world in the first 100 days of his presidency.

In fact, the Biden climate task force that is led by former Secretary of State John Kerry, as well as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, didn’t expand upon the initial Biden climate plan in regard to climate change and foreign policy in their recent climate policy recommendations.

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