Here Are Biden’s Day One Actions on the Climate and Environment
As he did on his campaign and transition website, Biden emphasized the climate crisis as one of the major challenges facing his administration, along with the coronavirus pandemic and systemic racism.
"A cry for survival comes from the planet itself," Biden said in his inaugural address. "A cry that can't be any more desperate or any more clear."
Hours after his inauguration, Biden signed a total of 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations, The New York Times reported. Some of these orders had important implications for the climate and environment.
1. Rejoining the Paris Agreement
The agreement recommits the U.S. to reducing greenhouse gas emissions enough to limit global warming to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Under Trump, the U.S. officially exited in November 2020.
Biden's reversal means the U.S. will now rejoin the agreement 30 days from Jan. 20.
2. Cancelling the Keystone XL Pipeline
Biden also signed a massive order titled "Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis." This order included revoking Trump's 2019 permit for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
The 1,700-mile pipeline would have carried around 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta, Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast, The Associated Press reported. The Obama administration revoked the permit in 2015, but the Trump administration reversed course.
Construction on the controversial project halted Wednesday in light of Biden's action, The Associated Press reported.
3. Reversing Trump's Rollbacks
The same executive order also empowered agencies to review Trump's many environmental rollbacks. It established commitments to listen to science, protect public health and the environment and conserve sites of national interest. Additionally, the order asked federal agencies to review any Trump regulations that violated these commitments.
The order specifically highlighted four rollbacks to be halted, altered or revoked: methane emissions in the oil and gas sector, fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks, energy efficiency standards for appliances and buildings, and air pollution controls, including the decision to limit certain scientific studies for setting public health policies.
Further, Biden called for a review of the shrinking of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments and the opening the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument to commercial fishing. Biden also paused oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
4. Stopping Border Wall Construction
Biden also signed an executive order stopping construction of the wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.
While the order did not mention the environment, several conservation groups have opposed the wall for its impacts on wildlife and ecosystems. One study found that wall construction could threaten eight species with extinction. It also imperils the National Butterfly Center in Texas, home to important pollinators.
Biden's initial actions prompted excitement from world leaders and environmental groups.
"Welcome back to the Paris Agreement!" French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted.
However, everyone, including Biden, acknowledged that more work remained.
"They are just executive actions. They are important but we're going to need legislation for a lot of the things we're going to do," Biden said according to The New York Times.
Biden's climate plan calls for a zero-emissions electricity sector by 2035, and zero emissions across the board by 2050. The plan will likely require approval from Congress, and some Republicans are already fighting Biden's actions. Montana Senator Steve Daines said he would introduce legislation requiring the president to get Senate approval for rejoining the Paris agreement. Daines also plans to introduce legislation that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
Meanwhile, Indigenous groups praised Biden's action on Keystone XL but called for him to revoke the permits of other pipelines.
"It is imperative that we keep the pressure on President Biden to put an end to ALL fossil fuel infrastructure and projects, making the ones that are near or on Indigenous territories of top priority," Tasina Sapa Win Smith, co-founder of Cheyenne River Grassroots Collective, said in a statement from the Indigenous Environmental Network.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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