We’re quickly approaching a year since the COVID-19 pandemic and job crisis hit the US like a hurricane. Unemployment rates rose along with death rates and feelings of fear and uncertainty. At the height of the Great Recession 8.6 million jobs were lost; it took just three months for the COVID-19 pandemic to exceed that. Working Americans suffered greatly. But while it’s important for Congress to react to this urgent crisis, any recovery efforts must take into account another, longer-term, potentially even deadlier, crisis: climate change.
In the last year, Congress has passed significant amounts of aid to get the American people back on their feet. From last March’s CARES Act to the relief bill signed by Trump in the last days of 2020 to the soon-to-be-signed-into-law American Rescue Plan, Congress has allocated trillions of dollars towards relief efforts.
While this is a step in the right direction, Congress needs to do more to ensure our economic recovery prioritizes climate change, particularly after the Trump administration spent four years taking us in the wrong direction. It is vital that we do not separate stimulus spending from climate change action. These two issues are one and the same.
Americans may not realize that major climate legislation was included in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion ‘American Rescue Plan, when in fact several ambitious energy and climate provisions were included in the plan. It allocates more than $5 billion in spending to energy and climate efforts. The plan provides funding for environmental justice and advocacy initiatives as well as energy and water initiatives that assist low-income households, highlighting the importance of protecting vulnerable populations and rendering support to Americans dealing with the financial drawbacks of the pandemic.
This stands in stark contrast to the Trump administration’s approach to climate change. During the beginning of Trump’s presidency, he meticulously dismantled almost every major climate change rule implemented before him, ranging from air pollution and emissions and water pollution to toxic substances and safety. Over 80 environmental rules and regulations were officially reversed during Trump’s presidency.
Trump also utilized his time in the White House to mock and express his denialism for climate change on social media over an astounding 115 times in 2017. On June 1st, 2017, he made the decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, stating that he backed reversal because of the “unreasonable economic burden placed on American workers, businesses, and taxpayers” that came as a result of the agreement. This line of argument is ridiculous – renewable energy jobs are one of the fastest-growing job sectors.
While $5 billion for climate provisions is a good start, it’s not enough. Luckily, President Biden has made it clear that he views the connection between fighting climate change and restoring American jobs as irrefutable, and he’s backed it up in his bold, ambitious “The Biden Plan For A Clean Energy Revolution And Environmental Justice”. Agenda, which will likely serve as a base for parts of his upcoming infrastructure/stimulus bill.
The Clean Energy agenda details investing $1.9 Trillion to secure our future so that by 2050 the United States will be a 100% clean energy economy with zero net emissions. He plans to have an enforcement mechanism in place to assure that America closely sticks to the plan in order to meet all the long-term energy goals by the conclusion of his first term. Biden wants to focus on the development of zero-carbon technologies so America can ultimately lead by example and inspire the rest of the world to join the clean energy economy movement. He details exporting cutting-edge equipment housed and created in the USA to assist other nations on the journey to reducing emissions.
Biden understands what Trump did not. We don’t have to choose between the climate and jobs. The key to finding our way out of this crisis is to tackle the issues of the job crisis and climate change at the same time. Biden’s initiative could potentially create more than 10 million quality green jobs for Americans to take advantage of. This should be a no-brainer. Moving forward with President Biden’s agenda will help restructure and sustain our economy, create good-paying jobs for people all over the world, and ultimately help preserve life and the planet for all people.