The Biden Moment on Climate

Dear Friends,

We’re excited to extend our warmest congratulations to President-elect Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, with a sense of relief and hope for the next four years.

Congressman Henry Waxman, chairman of Mighty Earth, has worked with President-elect Biden for decades on environmental protection, health care, and other issues. We know Joe Biden to be a good man. President-elect Biden has not only supported ambitious climate and environmental legislation, but offered an ambitious and achievable action plan. He’s also assembled an impressive team, including expert alumni of Congressman Waxman’s staff.

We’ve waited far too long to reach this moment when movement for climate action is within reach and on the Administration’s agenda. And we’re determined to keep it there.

100 Days, 100 Environmental Protections

The first order of business for the environment will be undoing President Trump’s rollback of core protections. Indeed, just in the last two weeks, President Trump gutted protections for Alaska’s Tongass rainforest (one of the most carbon-dense ecosystems on the planet) and let threatened wolves start being gunned down.

Among the other approximately 100 top priority environmental protections to restore:

  • The Obama-Biden climate standards for cars and trucks, probably the single most important climate policy of the Obama administration
  • Limits on methane super-pollution from oil and gas
  • Protections for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Bears Ears, Grand Staircase, Northeast Canyons National Monuments, and other public lands.

We look forward to working with the Biden administration to start to reverse these 100 rollbacks in the first 100 days.

A Perfect Storm for Decarbonization

At Mighty Earth, we believe the secret to our success has been creating “Perfect Storms” of grassroots activism, financial pressure, and media attention to transform industries and create irresistible political momentum. There’s rarely a silver bullet to achieve systemic change; we must pull every lever available. This approach has never been more relevant.

To be sure, there may be challenges enacting the Biden climate agenda from a divided Senate and right-wing Supreme Court. While they can’t be overlooked, a determined prioritization of climate in all policy-making forums, including those that are not traditionally environmental, can achieve Biden’s ambitious policy goals. Transportation policy, tax policy, infrastructure policy, and pandemic economic stimulus are all opportunities to drive decarbonization and create the green, living-wage jobs we need to spark an economic renaissance.

So far, the United States has spent trillions of dollars on stimulus, and while some of these efforts have provided much-needed aid to American families, we have flubbed the opportunity to use corporate bailout funds to invest in the green jobs of the future. The next round of stimulus can’t make the same mistake. All policy is climate policy now.

Pandemic Prevention

One of the top priorities for the Biden administration will be ending the coronavirus pandemic, but we must also focus on preventing the next pandemic. COVID-19, like SARS, MERS, Ebola, and AIDS before it, likely emerged from human-wildlife interaction fueled by deforestation. Indeed, destruction of native ecosystems is the single greatest risk factor for new pandemics. That’s why we support Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Ro Khanna’s call to include scaled up forest protection as part of a comprehensive pandemic protection plan. President-elect Biden also called during the first debate to mobilize $20 billion for rainforest conservation; we look forward to working with the administration to deliver on that pledge.

Presidential Climate Leadership Beyond Federal Policy

In order to achieve his climate goals, President Biden has far more at his disposal than just pulling the bureaucratic and legal levers available to him: he can set goals, provide tools, and demand action from the private sector, states and cities, and citizens alike. There’s more than one way for the president to drive decarbonization.

For our part, we’re scaling up our advocacy campaigns to transform agriculture and industry to drive rapid decarbonization. And states and cities such as those participating in America’s Climate Pledge are working hard on practical measures like clean electricity standards and changing local building codes.

President Biden can supercharge this agenda with some simple steps:

  • Demand that irresponsible U.S. companies like Cargill and ExxonMobil quit tarnishing America’s global reputation through destroying forests, polluting the atmosphere, and driving human rights abuses
  • Force foreign-owned business like top polluter JBS to act with respect for America’s waterways and communities; and push every large company join a race to the top for climate action;
  • Share the resources of the federal government to drive comprehensive action.

America’s Role in the World

We are relieved that the United States will once again be a leading voice for environmental protection. Change has already begun: Biden has promised to immediately rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.

We look forward to working with the Biden administration to return to an era of honesty, integrity, and international cooperation to protect forests, climate, wildlife, and oceans, and secure the rights of Indigenous communities and courageous front-line defenders.

The United States and the world face enormous challenges crushing down on us all at once. But we believe that Joe Biden’s election can – with resolve, courage, and a LOT of grassroots organizing – represent a key pivot, a time when we turned away from the path that led to climate catastrophe and began to truly build back better.
Thanks for your continued support of Mighty Earth.


Glenn Hurowitz            Kristin Urquiza
CEO, Mighty Earth       Deputy Director, Mighty Earth