Biden Introduces All-Star Climate Team to Tackle the “Existential Threat of Our Time”

Washington, D.C. — Today, President-elect Joe Biden held his first public event with the climate and energy leaders he announced to top positions in his administration. Biden said these members of his climate team will play a pivotal role in tackling “the existential threat of our time: climate change.”

“The ambition President-elect Biden and his climate team laid out is exactly what the science demands and our economy needs at this moment,” said Lori Lodes, executive director of Climate Power. “The American people gave Biden a mandate to act on climate and this team will be ready on Day One.”

The event featured the following climate nominees:

  • Deb Haaland for Secretary of the Interior
  • Jennifer Granholm for Secretary of Energy
  • Michael Regan for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator
  • Brenda Mallory for Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality
  • Gina McCarthy for National Climate Advisor
  • Ali Zaidi for Deputy National Climate Advisor 

This historically diverse team of Cabinet leaders joins an already impressive lineup of climate champions leading on health, economic, and foreign policy in the Biden administration.

During the event, both Biden and Vice President-elect Harris detailed the catastrophic consequences of climate change we saw in 2020, from unprecedented wildfires to severe drought to a record hurricane season.

Despite this devastation, Biden and the team were confident that we can make progress towards combating the climate crisis. Biden highlighted the opportunities that will stem from building climate-resistant infrastructure and creating a clean energy future. 

Biden has long argued that bold climate action will create millions of jobs and bolster the economy, and this was a central focus throughout the event. 

  • Biden reemphasized his commitment to spurring economic growth by tackling the climate crisis, saying: “A key plank of our Build Back Better economy and economic plan is building a modern climate-resistant infrastructure and a clean energy future. We can put millions of Americans to work modernizing water, transportation, and energy infrastructure to withstand the impacts of extreme weather.”
  • Granholm, who invested heavily in clean energy while serving as governor of Michigan stated: “I have become obsessed, obsessed with creating good-paying jobs in America, in a global economy.”  Granholm went on to talk about the need for the U.S. to lead on the boom of clean energy jobs, saying: “Millions of good-paying jobs are going to be created, millions, but where? Where are those jobs going to be? In China or in the other countries that are fighting tooth and nails to corner the market on this hopeful electric clean energy future? Or are those jobs going to be here in America?”
  • Regan emphasized that “[Biden has] brought people across the public and private and non-profit sectors to help build a new clean energy economy, creating quality jobs, and confronting climate change.”
  • Zaidi stated, “For our planet and for the people who live here, the peril of the climate crisis is already evident. And we can also see the promise in the jobs casting and machining, installing and rewiring, pouring new foundations, and building new industries. And in the possibility of repairing communities, hurt places where pollution has been heavy and opportunity has never quite reached.”
  • McCarthy thanked Biden for the “opportunity to help put Americans back to work in innovative good-paying, clean energy jobs, to improve the health of our communities and to help clear the path for people in every hometown in America to live brighter, cleaner and more vibrant lives.”

The Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to environmental justice and protections to ensure clean air and water was another focus for the nominees. Vice President-elect Harris underscored the importance of environmental justice and emphasized that “everyone has the right to breathe clean air and drink clean water.”

  • Regan remarked, “We will move with a sense of urgency on climate change […] and enact an environmental justice framework that empowers people in all communities.”
  • Mallory noted that Biden’s agenda will have wide-reaching environmental impacts. “The Build Back Better plan is poised to breathe new life into the Council on Environmental Quality. CEQ will work with a broad range of partners on a broad range of issues, tackle the full breadth of climate change, preserve natural treasures of our nation, center environmental justice, and help more communities overcome legacy environmental impacts. I am grateful to the President-elect and Vice President-elect for elevating this work and lifting up the communities where it will make the most difference.”

Biden and the nominees emphasized the need for a collaborative all-government approach to addressing a threat as big and complex as climate change:

  • Haaland said, “We know that climate change can only be solved with participation of every department and every community, coming together in a common purpose, this country can and will tackle this challenge.”
  • Regan stated, “Since the start of my career, my goals have been the same: to safeguard our natural resources, to improve the quality of our air and our water, to protect our families and our communities and to help them seize the opportunities of a cleaner, healthier world. Now, I am honored to pursue those goals alongside leaders who understand what’s at stake. When President-elect Biden called out the plight of the fenceline communities during the campaign, he made it clear that we would no longer just deal with the issues up to the fenceline of these facilities, but that we would actual see the people on the other side of those fencelines.”
  • McCarthy said: “It will be my incredible honor to help turn this plan into promises kept by marshaling every part of our government, working directly with communities and harnessing the force of science and the values of environmental justice, to build a better future for my two, very soon to be three, little grandchildren, and for generations of Americans to come.” 

The nominees all underscored the urgency of the climate crisis, but nevertheless, they remained hopeful for the clean energy future under the Biden administration. McCarthy stated, “The opportunities to act on climate change right now fill me with incredible optimism, with hope, with energy and excitement. We not only have the responsibility to meet this moment together; we have the capacity to meet this moment together.”