• Jonathan Zhou

A deep delve into Biden's environmental policies

President Biden signing his first executive order in the Oval Office, Jan 20th.

Joe Biden entering the presidential office heralds the implementation of multiple ambitious environmental policies such as making the United States the first country to have net-zero carbon dioxide emissions for agriculture, eliminating carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, and preserving 30 percent of the nation’s land and oceans.

Biden considers sustainable agricultural development as a major issue. He aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through creating incentives and allowing carbon trading. With carbon trading, every producer will have a maximum quota of carbon dioxide that they are permitted to produce. Thus, low carbon producers can sell parts of their quota to high carbon producers. In other words, you save money when you cut off carbon emissions. This incentive will encourage farmers to emit less carbon dioxide. In addition, Biden also plans to promote local food, reducing shipping costs and emissions.

But these policies alone are not enough to have net-zero agriculture emissions. Biden’s most important step is to encourage farmers to adopt carbon sequestration, a process of capturing and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Carbon sequestration is mostly done through planting slow-growing plants as they remove the most carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This change will require farmers to switch from fast-growing, profitable (but often land-depleting) crops, to slow-growing crops. Large amounts of incentives would be required for farmers to adopt this change, yet the environmental benefits of doing so are significant.

During Biden’s presidential campaign, he disclosed a 1.7 trillion dollar plan to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. His plan not only involves re-entering the Paris Climate agreement and fining countries that fail to meet their carbon emission standards, but also attempts to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, prevent oil extraction of government property, promote electrical vehicles, and increase energy efficiency standards on buildings and devices. Furthermore, the plan aims to double the electricity produced by offshore wind farms by 2030.

Aside from reducing carbon emissions, Biden sets the goal of preserving 30 percent of the nation's land and oceans. The details of the plan are unclear. So far, the White House has only put out “calls for the establishment of a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative to put a new generation of Americans to work conserving and restoring public lands and water.” However, Biden wants to use the community’s assistance. “The order directs the Secretary of Agriculture to collect input from farmers, ranchers, and other stakeholders on how to use federal programs … and create new sources of income and jobs for rural Americans,” says the White House.

Lastly, Biden declares that he will establish an Environmental and Climate Justice Division within the Department of Justice. On Biden’s personal website Joebiden.com, President Biden makes a statement about preserving the environment: “Allowing corporations to continue to pollute – affecting the health and safety of both their workers and surrounding communities – without consequences, perpetuates an egregious abuse of power.” Biden hopes that the Environmental and Climate Justice Division will encourage corporations to use the environment more responsibly.


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