Within hours of his being sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, Joe Biden signed an ambitious series of executive orders to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, undo many of President Trump’s harmful handouts to Big Oil, protect our air and water and treasured public lands, and cancel the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline — a dirty, risky project that has increasingly become a symbol of the American government’s willingness to acknowledge the scale of our climate crisis.
The Keystone XL pipeline would have further destabilized our climate by locking in the consumption of oil equivalent to 35 million passenger vehicles per year. When President Obama rejected its permit in 2015, he said that its approval would have undercut American leadership on climate change. At the time, his administration was in the midst of a series of actions aimed at slashing carbon pollution to meet the voluntary emissions goals under the Paris Climate Agreement. Six years later, our need for climate leadership is even more desperate. The policy changes made by the Trump administration pushed U.S. emissions higher, not lower, and at the rate that our world burns carbon, scientists now estimate we’ll have locked in a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius — the increase that the Paris Agreement aimed to prevent — in just seven years.The above excerpt was originally published in InsideSources. Please click here to view the full op-ed.