The 46th President of the United States has committed a trillion dollars in funding for the policies, including investment programs and government procurement. This leverages the scale of the US economy, meaning the government commitment will lead to more than the dollar amount in returns.
Anna Skarbek, ClimateWorks CEO, stated that Joe Biden and his team were worthy of the praise they had received in media coverage, as they have already prepared ‘a comprehensive set of climate policies that are aligned with best practice, grounded in the zero emissions goal and applied to different sectors’.
Despite this ambitious policy package, stagnation on climate action during the previous presidential term means that the US has fallen behind other nations: ‘When the US re-enters the Paris Agreement, it comes back to the table, but that table has progressed in its absence. In the last six months alone, China, Japan, Korea, and the UK joined Europe in formalising next zero emissions targets for their entire economies. The absence of American investment may have slowed down progress in many of the sectors but we’ve seen an acceleration of commitments also by investors, banks and some of the major companies around the world.’
When asked whether the coronavirus pandemic had slowed progress, Anna explained that, although it had been a risk, it didn’t seem to deter companies.
‘Right at the beginning of the pandemic, the CEO of one of the world’s biggest oil companies, BP, stated that while they had just made their net zero commitment prior to the pandemic, COVID-19 would not deter them from seeking to achieve the goals.’
Joe Biden has already taken executive actions to restrengthen vehicle emissions standards, reviewed policies that were weakened in the previous four years, and is slowing down or repealing approvals for oil pipelines.
Europe and the UK have doubled down on their commitments, and embedded decarbonisation as part of COVID-19 recovery investments: ‘ClimateWorks research – and the work of others – has shown you can achieve a double dividend. Investments made to recover an economy post-covid, such as economic stimulus, can achieve decarbonisation goals while providing stimulus for jobs, investment and future prosperity.’
Catch up on recent releases from ClimateWorks on opportunities for a green recovery in Australia: Decarbonisation Futures, Recover and reduce.