The president called on the country to have a “greater sense of urgency” when it comes to facing the challenges of climate change

By Sean Neumann
January 27, 2021 05:37 PM
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President Joe Biden
| Credit: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty

President Joe Biden announced he signed a new executive orders on Wednesday ensuring the U.S. remains focused on combating climate change — an issue he called an "existential threat to the planet."

Biden, 78, said he hoped the efforts would "supercharge" the country's action on environmental issues.

"In my view, we've already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis," Biden said. "We can't wait any longer. We see it with our own eyes. We feel it. We know it in our bones. And it's time to act."

One of the executive orders Biden signed Wednesday aims to make climate change a major focus of the federal government's decision making.

"It is the policy of my administration to make evidence-based decisions guided by the best available science and data," reads the order, which creates a 26-member group called the "President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology" to advise the president.

Biden also signed a memo that vows the federal government will "make evidence-based decisions" based on science and says that "scientific findings should never be distorted or influenced by political considerations."

The promise in Biden's memo comes after a year when former President Donald Trump's administration was criticized for interfering with federal health officials' data and statements for political reasons.

Biden's actions Wednesday follow up an executive order he signed on his first day in office, re-committing the U.S. to the Paris Climate Agreement — an Obama-era environmental treaty with countries around the world, which Trump pulled the U.S. out of during his term.

John Kerry
| Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty
Gina McCarthy
| Credit: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty

Speaking at the White House, Biden pointed to last year's California wildfires, as well as historic floods in the Midwest and increasingly aggressive hurricanes on the East Coast, as examples of the world's rapidly changing climate. The president noted a decrease in air quality.

"Just like we need a unified, national response to COVID-19, we desperately need a unified, national response to the climate crisis," Biden said. "Because there is a climate crisis."

Biden also made clear his administration would not ban fracking, but instead impose "stronger standards" on the practice.

The president called on the federal government to have a "greater sense of urgency" in dealing with climate change and introduced former Secretary of State John Kerry — who he called "my best buddy" — as the country's first-ever special climate envoy. He also introduced Gina McCarthy as the White House's lead climate adviser.

"We know what to do," Biden said. "We've just got to do it."