Biden prioritizes climate change as national security concern, pauses oil drilling on public lands
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden signed another raft of executive actions Wednesday to combat climate change, prioritizing science and evidence-based policy across federal agencies and pausing oil drilling on public lands in the latest move to unwind the Trump administration's environmental policies.
Biden pledged to be the most aggressive president on climate change, which he called "an existential threat." His goal is to decarbonize the U.S. power sector by 2035 on the way to reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The USA emits the second-largest amount of carbon dioxide (CO2), producing about 5.41 billion metric tons in 2018. China emits nearly twice that amount.
"We've already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis," Biden said from the White House State Dining Room. "We can't wait any longer. ... We know it in our bones. And it's time to act."
Just like a national response was needed to combat the coronavirus pandemic, a unified response is required to fight the climate crisis, Biden said.
"We know what to do," he said. "We've just got to do it."
The actions Biden signed Wednesday afternoon elevate climate change as a national security concern, commit to the goal of conserving at least 30% (an increase from 12%) of all federal land and water by 2030 and build on his economic policy agenda to direct federal agencies to "procure carbon pollution-free electricity and clean, zero-emission vehicles to create good-paying, union jobs and stimulate clean energy industries."
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