Biden turns attention to climate crisis with new executive orders today – live updates

Joe Biden will address the nation about the climate crisis later today, and sign further executive orders aimed at environmental impacts. Those directives include spelling out how US intelligence, defense and homeland security agencies should address the security threats posed by worsening droughts, floods and other natural disasters under global warming. Biden’s appearance is due at 1:30pm EST (6:30pm GMT).

Before that, White House press secretary Jen Psaki will also hold an event, joined by climate envoy John Kerry and White House national climate advisor Gina McCarthy.

Kerry has already been laying the ground for today’s environmental announcements since taking up his role. Ellen Knickmeyer writes for the Associated Press that he has been trying to make clear that the US isn’t just revving up its own efforts to reduce oil, gas and coal pollution but that it intends to push everyone in the world to do more, too.

Joe Biden introducing John Kerry as his special envoy for the climate crisis back in November.

Joe Biden introducing John Kerry as his special envoy for the climate crisis back in November. Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Kerry’s diplomatic efforts match the fast pace of domestic climate directives by the week-old Biden administration, which created the job Kerry now holds.

At 77, Kerry is working to make a success out of the global climate accord that he helped negotiate in Paris as president Barack Obama’s secretary of state and that he then saw rejected by president Donald Trump

Success for Kerry is hardly assured. At home, he faces pushback from the oil and gas industry and loud Republican concerns that jobs will be lost.

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Internationally, there’s uncertainty about whether Biden’s climate commitments can survive the United States’ intensely divided politics, let alone the next presidential transition. Meanwhile, environmentalists are pushing Kerry to be more aggressive – demonstrating outside his house on his first full day on the job.

Already Kerry has spoken virtually with US mayors, foreign presidents and premiers, government ministers and others. His message is: put your big one-off Covid economic recovery funding into projects that boost cleaner energy. Get green projects going fast in Republican-leaning U.S. states to prove renewable energy can mean jobs and build needed political support. Get everyone to talk to China about things like stopping the building of dirty-burning coal-fired power plants.

If China and the US, as the world’s No. 1 and 2 top carbon emitters, don’t spell out exactly how they will curb climate-damaging emissions more quickly, “we’re all going to lose credibility,” Kerry told an online gathering of American mayors last weekend.

The US has to have the “credibility to go to the table, show people what we’re doing and push them to do more,” Kerry said then. “So everybody can can understand it’s not fake, it’s not a phony, empty promise it really is getting real. They’re not going to believe it when we just say it. We have to do it.”


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