Biden tackles climate crisis with new plan, staff

In the most ambitious U.S. effort to address the climate crisis, President Joe Biden signed executive orders and formed a task force to transform the nation’s heavily fossil-fuel powered economy into a clean-burning one. (Jan. 27)

Video Transcript

ROBERT WATSON: Well, it's very clear President Biden recognizes we have been absent from the climate change debate, both nationally and internationally, for four years. And that we need to reassert ourselves. We need to work with China, India, the European Union, to come up with a way to get global emissions to be lower. He recognizes that also we need to work with industry. We need to make sure that we do create jobs, that this is something that is actually good for the American people.

And I think his speech today recognizes that. I think the fact that he's got really good people around him who recognize this. So I see a whole new tone difference from what we've had for the last four years. To be quite honest, it's been totally embarrassing for the last four years. We've walked away from our commitment, both to the American people and to the world at large. So this really is going in the right direction. But there are vested interests.

There's clearly people in the oil business, the gas business, that will try and stop him. They will try to keep this status quo. He will have to overcome that. The costs of acting, that is, to stop climate change, are much cheaper than the cost of inaction. If we allow climate change to continue, it will undermine food security, water security, security around the world. He noted that this is a national security issue, and he's absolutely correct.

Climate change causes conflict in certain parts of the world. It could undermine our military might in certain parts of the world. So he does recognize, this is not just an environmental issue, this is a development issue, an economic issue, a social security and equity issue. The fact he realizes that with people like Gina McCarthy, John Kerry, bodes very well, that they're going to be pragmatic but recognize time is not on our side. We must act now.