- Biden signed an executive order to mitigate the financial risk of the climate crisis on Americans.
- This comes as Democrats are pushing to address climate issues in an infrastructure bill, which the GOP opposes.
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s recently reintroduced Green New Deal has an estimated $10 trillion price tag.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
A primary focus of President Joe Biden’s agenda is addressing the climate crisis, and on Thursday, he signed an executive order aimed at mitigating the financial risks the crisis brings onto American families and businesses.
The White House released Biden’s executive order on climate-related financial risk, dedicated to analyzing and mitigating the risk the climate crisis poses to homeowners, businesses, consumers, and the government. After Texas’ huge winter storm in February, the state’s entire power grid shut down, costing residents huge electric bills. Biden’s executive order would work to prevent something like that from happening again.
“Extreme weather related to climate change can disrupt entire supply chains and deprive communities of food, water, or emergency supplies. Snowstorms can offline entire power grids. Floods made worse by rising sea levels destroy homes and businesses,” a White House fact sheet said. “As the United States builds a modern and equitable clean energy future… the President’s directive today will help safeguard the financial security of America’s families, businesses, and workers from the climate-related financial risks they are already facing.”
According to the fact sheet, Biden’s order will “protect workers’ life savings, spur the creation of good-paying jobs, and help position the United States to lead the global economy” by:
- Requiring the National Climate Advisor and the Director of the National Economic Council to develop a climate-risk strategy to identify and disclose climate-related financial risk to the government in 120 days;
- Encouraging the Treasury Secretary to issue a report in 180 days on recommendations to reduce risks to financial stability;
- Directing the Labor Secretary to consider revising or rescinding any rules from Trump’s administration that would have barred investment firms from considering climate-related risks related to worker’s pensions;
- Improving how federal financial management reports climate-related financial risks;
- And ensuring the government takes steps to be fiscally responsible in response to climate-related risks posed on the federal budget through increased costs and lost revenue.
This executive order comes as Biden is pushing his $4 trillion infrastructure plan, which includes significant climate-change investments to create jobs and build sustainable housing, among other things. Specifically, his American Jobs Plan would invest $35 billion in climate research and development, $213 billion to retrofit over 2 million housing units, and $30 billion for innovation and jobs creation.
Democrats are also advocating for the climate crisis to be at the top of Congress’ agenda. On April 20, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey reintroduced the Green New Deal, which lays out goals for a 10-year national mobilization to upgrade US infrastructure, convert to zero-emission energy sources, and remove greenhouse gases and reduce pollution, among other things.
It was first introduced in February 2019, and while the two Democrats did not put a price tag on the resolution, Ocasio-Cortez said in 2019 it could cost at least $10 trillion.
“I think we really need to get to $10 trillion to have a shot,” Ocasio-Cortez told The Hill, adding, “I know it’s a ton. I don’t think anyone wants to spend that amount of money, it’s not a fun number to say, I’m not excited to say we need to spend $10 trillion on climate, but … it’s just the fact of the scenario.”
Republicans, on the other hand, have balked at the potential price tag of both the Green New Deal and Biden’s infrastructure plan. Ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources John Barrasso said in a statement in April that “the green new disaster is back” and cited a cost analysis from the American Action Forum — a conservative think tank — that said the Green New Deal would cost between $51 trillion and $93 trillion over the next decade.
And in terms of infrastructure, Republicans argue that Biden’s plan addresses too much beyond physical infrastructure, like roads and bridges, and say that climate initiatives should be a separate bill. That’s why a group of GOP senators, led by Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, introduced a $568 billion counter-proposal to Biden’s plan that did not include any climate investments.
But Democrats were quick to call this proposal “a joke” and “a slap in the face,” and remain adamant that the climate crisis needs to be addressed through legislation as soon as possible.
“The cost of inaction is mounting already,” Deputy National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi said in an April press call. “And that’s why it’s time, over time, to take action and boost the American economy and set it up to to tackle the climate crisis.”
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