A record The turnout of young voters, a cohort torn by fear over the climate crisis, helped Biden beat Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election. The Sunrise movement, the progressive youth-led climate group, has reached 3.5 million young voters in Swing States and now wants to see a return on those efforts.
“We will have to see if Joe Biden lives up to his word when he says climate change is his number one problem, but rest assured the movement will be there to remind him every moment of the way,” said Varshini Prakash, co -Founder of the group, which rose to fame last year after a viral video showed an eventful encounter between Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein and young climate activists who had occupied his office. “We delivered for Biden, now it’s time to deliver for us.”
Biden called the climate crisis an “existential threat” to the United States and presented a $ 2 billion plan to decarbonize the electricity sector and create millions of clean energy jobs. This package is much more ambitious than the Democrat’s initial climate plan, which groups, including Sunrise, have successfully pushed to go further.
“His grades with young people were appalling six months ago but, to his credit, he came back with a much better climate plan,” Prakash said. “It’s clear that we don’t have time to wait. Young people are terrified of what’s to come and they will push Joe Biden to do everything in his power to ensure climate action.
A heated fear for climate activists is a repeat of Barack Obama’s failure to pass a climate law, after the collapse of a grand bipartisan attempt to put a price on carbon emissions. Biden will be forced to move forward without Republicans, with activists speaking with the incoming administration to create a climate mobilization office, in the vein of the war mobilization office put in place by Franklin Delano. Roosevelt in 1943, to coordinate efforts.
Protests are also brewing over Biden’s cabinet appointments, with concern over the alleged return of Ernest Moniz, a former energy secretary who favors the use of gas rather than just renewables. “I am concerned that the cabinet going through the nomination process will not be seen as full of climate champions,” Prakash said.
This nomination process, like much of Biden’s agenda, will depend on a Senate that looks likely to remain in Republicans’ hands. Radical climate legislation would almost certainly be stuck in this scenario, testing Biden’s ability to cut emissions through executive action or negotiated deals with Republicans.
“Biden will try to legislate first while retaining the prerogative to regulate and I think there is still a possibility of doing so – he spent 30 years in the Senate and knows how to strike a deal,” said Paul Bledsoe, strategic advisor to the Progressive Policy Institute and ally of Biden. Republicans could be swayed by an economic stimulus package that includes green elements such as new electric vehicle charging stations, modernization of buildings to make them more energy efficient and support for solar and wind power, said Bledsoe.
“I expect him to be very aggressive,” added Bledsoe. “If he had Congress, it would be easier, Sunrise understands. But I don’t think he intends to disappoint this new generation of climate activists.
Public opinion will at least be largely in favor of Biden. Polls show that there is a record level of concern among Americans about the climate crisis, with a clear majority demanding a government response.
“The electorate has made it clear that they want to take action on climate change,” said Heather McTeer Toney, former regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency and now senior director of the Moms Clean Air Force. “It’s exciting that the climate is a top priority. I know it won’t be easy, but it now seems possible. We should be energized. “