16 December 2020

US climate policy in the world in a time of transition 

On 14 December 2020, Prof. Susanna Hecht delivered a policy talk on how much of the Trump legacy can be undone, and what can Biden do to move forward? The event was moderated by Joelle Noailly, Head of Research of Centre for International Environmental Studies, and attended by more than 40 participants.

Prof. Hecht discussed that while on one hand, USA is prone to climate change accelerated disasters like hurricanes, floods, heat waves and wildfires, and on the other hand, the Trump administration did everything in its power to weaken the environmental laws and regulations in place for decades. It weakened or wiped out more than 125 rules and policies aimed at protecting the nation’s air, water and land, with more than 40 rollbacks underway. The Trump administration invited fossil-fuel industry to overturn the environmental regulations; few among them were National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, and Migratory Species Act, triggering an institutional and regulatory capture. 

The upcoming Biden administrations proposes to have Carbon-free electricity by 2035, rejoining Paris Agreement and strong climate policies, with emphasis on – Environmental justice, where it aims to have a Department of Environment and Climate Justice within the US Department of Justice; and Climate Justice, with National Crisis Strategy that prioritizes equitable disaster risk reduction and response. 

Prof. Hecht stressed that the problem is “not all actions taken are reversible or even if it is, it will take time to undo them”. However, the new Biden administration offers a new hope.