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The decision in 2017 by former President Donald Trump to withdraw the United States (U.S) from the United Nations (UN) Paris Climate Change Agreement was cause for concern. The U.S is the world’s largest economy and among leading countries that pose existential threats to the environment by its production and consumption behaviours. In essence, according to the National Geographic, “Climate Change is a long-term shift in global or regional climate patterns. Often…specifically to the rise in global temperatures from the mid-20th century to present.” It is the long-term shift, if not effectively managed or reversed, that could get worse and adversely impact the ecosystem and our lives.
World leaders were happy when the U.S rejoined the Paris Agreement under President Joe Biden. It was a campaign promise he made and kept. At a recent virtual Climate Summit, he hosted with world leaders, he made no bones in recommitting the U.S to live up to its obligations in the 2015 Agreement. Efforts to this effect are being seen by the appointment of John Kerry as the Climate Czar. Kerry was the Secretary of State when the U.S signed the Agreement.
President Biden is talking about Climate Change in the context of Job Creation and Infrastructural developments, guided by principles of the International Core Labour Standards, which are a set of four basic, universal, and indivisible human rights. These namely are: Freedom from forced labour, Freedom from child labour, Freedom from discrimination at work, Freedom to form and join a union, and to bargain collectively. His decision to take the bull by the horns in fighting Climate Change has earned the admiration of his critics and other progressive societies committed to the Paris Agreement. It is being said, not since Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-1945) with the New Deal, has America seen such a national progressive agenda.
The Core Labour Standards recognise equality and justice in the workplace and Biden has led, thus far, by having the most diverse administration which comprises workers of racial and gender diversity, sexual orientation, age and other backgrounds. Biden is delivering the type of leadership the world needs, i.e., leadership by example and being prepared to make the tough decisions for the good of the nation. The world could benefit from this because whether we like it or not, the U.S has been a global force to reckon with in the past centuries. Therefore, it is good for the world and international institutions when the U.S is led by a President that has an understanding of what a progressive world could be and the U.S’ role in making it possible.
Some have pointed to Biden’s record as a young senator as indication of what he has within him but may have been constrained given the politics of the Senate and being Vice President to President Barack Obama. Now as President, he is leading in framing the nation’s direction which has his stamp for justice, equality and creating a more inclusive and fair society. In the midst of racial tension and police brutality in the U.S, Biden also has the opportunity to lead in racial and criminal justice reforms, which he fought for as Senator, including speaking out against apartheid in South Africa.
His was a performance on the Senate floor during a hearing, that has been doing the social media rounds, which is reverberating and a reminder to those who know the man and are getting to know him. Biden has proven to be a fierce advocate for Social Justice, and this may be informed by his religious upbringing as a Catholic, and values instilled in him by his parents. He is also a passionate defender of workers’ rights, primarily the right to join a trade union of choice.
Climate Change is a 21st Century challenge. It is how the world confronts this challenge that would determine our lives and the earth the present generation bequeaths to future generations. It is known that glaciers are melting not at normal rate but hastened by man’s practices, altering climate conditions that will adversely impact weather patterns and the ecosystem. Air pollution from emission is also dangerous for the health of those reliant on oxygen to survive.
Thus, when Biden is moving aggressively, in partnership with businesses, to make motor vehicles less reliant on fossil fuel and more on alternative energy it bodes well for climate management. As part of the plan, he has proposed US$15 billion spending to begin installing electric stations along America highways for electric vehicles to be recharged. This may sound like an over ambitious plan, but at the same time some will argue that the U.S can achieve whatever it sets out to.