Four Things to Know about Climate Action in President Biden’s First Year
To: Interested Parties
From: Marta Stoepker, Communications Director, Climate Power
Date: January 19, 2022
Re: Four Things to Know about Climate Action in President Biden’s First Year
Climate action is a priority for voters. Joe Biden made climate change a pillar of his campaign and voters responded by electing him on a platform of bold, transformational climate action. Since taking office a year ago, the demand for action has only grown. Over the past year, President Biden and his Climate Cabinet have implemented an all-of-government approach to tackling the climate crisis and taken action: including rejoining the global climate effort, releasing critical guidelines to address long standing environmental injustices, doubling electric vehicle sales and more. While the Senate considers the Build Back Better Act in 2022, climate has become and continues to be a unifying issue among both Democratic voters and Congressional Democrats. Climate action is a winning issue and smart politics. As President Biden just said today at a press conference, “I think it’s clear that we will be able to get support for the $500 plus billion for energy and the environmental issues that are there.”
Below are the four things you need to know about climate during President Biden’s first year in office:
- Demand for climate action hit an all time high during President Biden’s first year in office. Concerns about climate change have undergone a dramatic shift, making it politically untenable to not act. When President Biden was sworn in as our nation’s vice president 13 years ago, a Gallup poll showed that the public was growing less worried about climate change. Even going so far as to call the issue exaggerated. But, again according to Gallup and Yale Climate Communications, today one in three Americans are alarmed by climate change. A January 10th Economist poll shows that climate change is the third most pressing issue facing America today. Those results track with landmark polling from Yale Climate Communications last year finding that concerns about the climate crisis are at an all time high. The public calls for concrete, meaningful action will only grow as extreme weather and volatile fossil fuel prices continue to disrupt and strain communities across the country.
A new Data for Progress and Climate Power poll underscores just how big the public appetite is for immediate climate action:
- Over two-thirds of voters are concerned about the impacts of pollution, extreme weather, and climate change on their communities.
- A majority of voters (70 percent) think it is important that Congress addresses climate change.
- When informed of the plan’s climate and clean energy investments, voters support the Build Back Better Act by a +39-point margin.
- If lawmakers fail to pass the Build Back Better Act, 15 percent of Democrats and nearly a third of Independents (28 percent) say they will be less motivated to vote for Democrats in the November 2022 midterm elections.
- More people felt the impacts of a changing climate during President Biden’s first year than ever before. One in three Americans experienced an unprecedented weather event last year. This past year alone:
- Climate-related disasters caused over $145 billion in damages and claimed nearly 700 lives.
- The Atlantic hurricane season was the third most-active on record.
- The second-largest fire in California history, the Dixie Fire, consumed almost a million acres.
- President Biden’s Administration keeps making progress on tackling climate change. While President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda makes its way through Congress, the administration continues to use its authority to move us closer to reaching our climate goals. In addition to rejoining the Paris climate agreement on Day one, President Biden has issued the strong vehicle emissions standards, made progress on the Justice40 initiative, established a Clean Energy Corps to put people to work advancing clean energy and cutting dangerous pollution, taken action to protect our nation’s air, water and wildlife, and more.
- Climate action will create jobs, lower costs for families with cheaper clean energy, reduce pollution and protect our planet for future generations. If Congress enacts President Biden’s vision for climate with the Build Back Better Act, we can create millions of good-paying jobs – the majority of which will go to those people without a college degree – lower energy costs and tackle climate change. It’s clear that inflation and daily costs are top of mind for families still reeling from the economic blowback of an ongoing pandemic. Others worry what job markets will look like in a rapidly changing work environment. Climate action through the Build Back Better Act takes direct aim at both.
- Putting people to work building a 21st century energy grid powered by clean, reliable, and affordable energy. Tax credits for manufacturers to build wind turbines, solar panels, batteries, and other clean technologies will create thousands of jobs up and down the manufacturing supply chain. Resources will be available to clean energy installers so more clean energy can get built on rooftops, in parking lots, near community gardens, on our public lands, and other spaces large and small. All of this equals up to a 21st century grid, rebuilt by the American workforce to deliver cheaper and reliable clean energy to customers.
- Lowering costs for families. In addition to creating millions of good paying jobs, tackling climate change and investing in our nation’s most vulnerable communities, the Build Back Better Act will reduce costs for families saving the average household $500 every year. According to Rhodium, tax credits for clean electricity, vehicles, new technology and manufacturing will help lower household costs while also creating jobs, jumpstarting new businesses, and helping working families afford electric vehicles and more efficient appliances.
- Putting people to work building safer, more efficient household appliances. Like the transportation sector, electricity powered by fossil fuels is also incredibly volatile and relies on global market forces outside of our control. The Build Back Better Act allocates $18 billion in consumer rebates for electric appliances so people can break ties from fossil fuels in their own homes. And these energy efficient appliances can lower energy bills, saving families on their monthly costs. The Build Back Better Act lowers the barrier of entry for rooftop solar, so homes, apartments, condos, schools, and businesses can generate their own electricity to power not only our dryers and water heater, but cars and buses. Access to rooftop solar is more critical than ever for people experiencing extreme weather. According to a SolarReview report, solar requests in California rose by 358% after wildfires, 850% increase in Texas after the February freeze shut down the fossil fuel powered grid, and Oregon saw a 919% increase after people lived through a heatwave that killed hundreds.
- Putting people to work addressing long standing environmental injustice. The Build Back Better Act’s civilian climate corps will deploy people across the country to build a healthier, more stable environment in our communities and public lands. But it’s important to note that the clean energy provisions have an eye to those living on the frontlines of climate change, making it more affordable to buy clean energy technology while prioritizing these communities as investments are made to cut pollution and build a clean energy future.
- Putting people to work building the next generation of vehicles that today are cheaper to drive, and soon will be cheaper to buy. Zero Emission Transportation Association’s (ZETA) new analysis shows that as gas prices remain volatile, EVs can save working families money now. The report shows that across the country, driving a gas-powered vehicle is approximately four times more expensive per mile than driving an EV. Innovation is driving down costs for batteries, and will likely make EV’s reach cost parity with gas-powered vehicles in two to three years. However, the barrier of entry still remains high for many Americans, and the Build Back Better Act addresses that by offering up to $12,500 in tax credits for people buying both new and used cars. But it’s not just the passenger vehicle that needs to be addressed. Pollution from buses and trucks is damaging the health of school children, workers, and communities, which is why the bill will convert thousands of dirty diesel school buses to electric as well as clean up the buses millions of people living in America rely on for transportation.