More than two months after it started, the 2020 US presidential election is over. The votes from two runoff elections in Georgia that were triggered in November 2020 after no candidate in either race won 50% of the vote, are done being counted, with Joe Biden certified as the 46th US President. Democrats now have control of the House, Senate and White House, which will no doubt help the Biden administration successfully pass legislation on its central tenets, including immigration, racial equality and crucially, the climate.
What is Happening?
- The Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff both beat their Republican counterparts, Johnny Isakson and David Perdue respectively.
- The question is now- what does this mean for the future of climate policy in the US? A lot, it turns out. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will now act as a tie-breaker in the 50-50 Senate, which means that Biden will have an easier time confirming his cabinet nominees.
- In the short term, Democrats will be able to push through votes on key issues, like COVID-19 relief checks and other economic stimulus measures. In the long-term, assuming that the progressive and moderate Democrats of the House and Senate can cooperate, Biden may be able to pass parts of his USD $2 trillion climate and infrastructure plan, which includes $400 billion for US-made manufacturing efforts such as clean-energy vehicles, telecommunications equipment, steel and other building materials and health care equipment, as well as another $300 billion in research and development on areas like 5G, artificial intelligence and electric vehicle technology. Biden’s team has also said that the plan would create union jobs in clean energy and through projects such as the construction of electric vehicle charging stations, the weatherization of buildings, updating electric grids and expanding internet access, among others.
- It is likely that both Ossoff and Warnock will support Biden’s green initiatives. Ossoff previously ran on a platform that included an infrastructure plan similar to the one Biden advocated for on his campaign trail, which proposed funding for clean energy, energy efficiency and jobs in the renewable energy sector. Warnock is an environmental justice advocate, supporting a clean energy transition, environmental justice and stewardship of the natural world. Both are also proponents of rejoining the Paris Agreement and reversing Trump’s environmental rollbacks.
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However, this is not to say that the path forward will be smooth. Progressive Democrats will have to compromise with their moderate colleagues to get bills passed. Additionally, Republicans tend to win in midterm elections, which are two years away, which could complicate efforts to get bills passed and effectively implemented.
However, the Georgia elections have sparked hope that Biden will pass meaningful climate legislation to get the US on the path of decarbonisation, which has been sorely lacking over the last four years.
Featured image by: NY Times