Biden touted the new jobs that combating climate change could bring, including building electric cars, installing charging stations, upgrading schools and commercial buildings, constructing energy-efficient homes and producing solar panels and wind turbines.
“When we invest in climate resilience and infrastructure, we create opportunities for everyone. That’s at the heart of our jobs plan that I proposed here in the United States,” Biden said. “It’s how our nation intends to build an economy that gives everybody a fair shot.”
Thursday’s marathon virtual summit was primarily intended to highlight a new U.S. pledge to make deep cuts to its carbon emissions this decade, mend the nation’s diplomatic reputation and rally other nations to embrace more ambitious climate goals of their own in coming months.
Friday’s session — which once again featured heads of state, business executives and labor representatives — was meant to underscore the administration’s assurances that combating climate change should not inflict economic pain, but rather help lift up communities across the country and the world.
Republicans for years have forced Democrats on the defensive by portraying climate action as a concession to fuzzy environmentalism at the cost of jobs for ordinary Americans. Biden is pushing hard to redefine the debate, arguing that renewable energy is at least as much an economic opportunity as an environmental imperative.
It’s a message that Biden has repeated over and over again on the campaign trail, in interviews, in speeches and in articulating the motivation behind his proposed $2 trillion infrastructure plan, which would include massive new investments in clean energy, electric vehicles and weatherization.
Biden’s pledge this week to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 50 to 52 percent by 2030, relative to 2005 levels, would require far-reaching changes that impact how Americans power their homes, how they travel and even how they grow food.
To meet that goal, the administration ultimately must rely on assumptions about the future that are hard to guarantee. Will a sharply divided Congress, home to some Republicans who say such policies risk leaving behind communities that rely on fossil fuels, fund Biden’s proposals? Will future administrations keep in place any new regulations aimed at curbing emissions? And will such policies survive inevitable court challenges?
On Friday, those questions would have to wait.
Biden lined up a cast of Cabinet members and enthusiastic business and labor figures to praise his jobs plan, highlighting the president’s message that building a carbon-free economy can create “good union jobs,” as administration officials said repeatedly this week.
Flanked by White House adviser Gina McCarthy, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, Biden listened as an electric school bus maker, a commercial building energy controls manufacturer, an electric grid expert and two union representatives reaffirmed their support for the president’s domestic strategy and legislation.
“There are no jobs on a dead planet,” said Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union. “We