What does the election of Biden mean for the environmental agenda?

What does the election of Biden mean for the environmental agenda?

The US election has been shrouded in drama, yet as the world prepares to welcome Joe Biden to office, one of the questions we’re asking ourselves what this means for the future of the global uptake of renewable energy. Renewables could overtake coal as the biggest source of electricity generation globally as early as 2022, if president-elect Joe Biden delivers on green promises made during the election campaign, according to the head of the International Energy Agency.

Similar to Boris Johnson’s ‘Build Back Greener’ agenda which includes  a Green Recovery Challenge Fund that promises to go towards creating and retaining thousands of jobs,

Joe Biden’s ‘Build Back Better’ plan ensures that – coming out of this profound public health and economic crisis as well as facing the persistent climate crisis, a national effort will be made to create the jobs needed to build a modern, sustainable and clean energy future.

Taken directly from Joe Biden’s campaign website the below outlines how he plans to focus on ‘building back green’ throughout different sectors.


Create millions of jobs rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure – from roads and bridges to green spaces and water systems to electricity grids and universal broadband – to lay a new foundation for sustainable growth, compete in the global economy, withstand the impacts of climate change, and improve public health, including access to clean air and clean water.

Auto Industry:

Create 1 million new jobs in the American auto industry, domestic auto supply chains, and auto infrastructure, from parts to materials to electric vehicle charging stations.


Provide every American city with 100,000 or more residents with high-quality, zero-emissions public transportation options through flexible federal investments.

Power Sector:

Move ambitiously to generate clean, American-made electricity to achieve a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035. This will enable us to meet the existential threat of climate change while creating millions of jobs with a choice to join a union.


Upgrade 4 million buildings and weatherize 2 million homes over 4 years, creating at least 1 million good-paying jobs with a choice to join a union; and also spur the building retrofit and efficient-appliance manufacturing supply chain by funding direct cash rebates and low-cost financing to upgrade and electrify home appliances and install more efficient windows, which will cut residential energy bills.


Spur the construction of 1.5 million sustainable homes and housing units.


Drive dramatic cost reductions in critical clean energy technologies, including battery storage, negative emissions technologies, the next generation of building materials, renewable hydrogen, and advanced nuclear.

Agriculture and Conservation:

Create jobs in climate-smart agriculture, resilience, and conservation, including 250,000 jobs plugging abandoned oil and natural gas wells and reclaiming abandoned coal, hard-rock, and uranium mines.

Environmental Justice:

Ensure that environmental justice is a key consideration in where, how, and with whom we build.

It is therefore no surprise that the renewable sectors in the US were overjoyed at Biden’s succession to the white house. American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) CEO Tom Kiernan said Biden's win would “shape a cleaner and more prosperous energy future” for the country. Whilst, the Solar Energy Industries (SEIA) CEO Abigail Ross Hopper said a Biden presidency would “advance clean energy incorporating environmental justice”.

Although both Boris and Biden have a build back green strategy, critics are sceptical about how well the new US president will warm to Johnson. The opposition Labour Party’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy told POLITICO that Johnson and his government had “needlessly and repeatedly created tension with the Democrats” — her words a sign that Labour spies a potential weak spot when Biden takes office, and Johnson potentially struggles to strike up a strong relationship with him.

The Prime Minister has more ground to make up than most in the international race to be Biden’s No. 1 international ally but there’s hope. The U.K. hosts the COP26 UN climate summit in November 2021. With Biden vowing to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement on his first day in office and to put the U.S. on the road to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, some spy an opportunity for Johnson to play his right-hand man in drumming up ambitious carbon-cutting pledges from countries around the world. This would be one of the few areas where the U.K. has global influence that the U.S. (under Biden) would want to align with.

So, at least for the moment the future looks encouraging for the widespread adoption of renewable energy. If Biden makes good on his promises, the powerhouse of America could really help build back green and set a precedent for the future.

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