Biden climate adviser Gina McCarthy and special presidential climate envoy John Kerry on Wednesday made clear that the administration’s executive actions on climate change will also address the country’s economy wrecked by the COVID-19 pandemic.
During a White House briefing on Wednesday, McCarthy stressed that Biden views the climate crisis as “one of four interrelated existential crises that are gripping our nation all at once” and that the President prioritizes taking a “whole of government approach” to address it.
Kerry echoed McCarthy’s sentiment by emphasizing that the “stakes on climate change just simply couldn’t be any higher than they are right now — it is existential.” Kerry added that the President is making climate “central to foreign policy planning, to diplomacy and to national security preparedness.”
Kerry said that addressing the climate crisis won’t have to come at the expense of oil industry workers, many of whom are Trump supporters, arguing that oil industry workers have been “fed a false narrative” for the past four years but that Biden wants to ensure them that they have “better choices.”
“They have been fed the notion that dealing with climate is coming at their expense. No, it’s not,” Kerry said. “What’s happening to them is happening because of other market forces already taking place.”
McCarthy doubled down on Kerry’s remarks by pointing to Biden’s executive actions on the climate crisis, which sets up a task force that will look into revitalizing the economies of coal communities with clean energy production and remedying pollution. Officials also emphasized that under Biden clean energy production would remain within the United States.
“It talks about how we can put people to work using the skills they have where they are. To look at those old abandoned oil and gas wells that are spewing out methane. All the coal mines that haven’t been properly closed that are doing the same,” McCarthy said. “That has great impact on climate, but also will keep an opportunity for those individual workers to have work in their own communities”
Kerry doubled down on the Trump administration’s anti-climate policies: the problem was “exacerbated by the last four years” and “now we have to make up for that.”
President Biden echoed Kerry and McCarthy’s sentiments in remarks delivered Wednesday shortly after the White House briefing, ahead of signing executive actions tackling the climate crisis.
Biden doubled down on a “whole government approach” with climate change at the center of his administration’s domestic, national security and foreign policy. Biden stressed the “desperately need a unified national response” to the climate crisis, which includes job creation amid the COVID-19 pandemic that helps alleviate the “existential threat to the planet.”
“When we think of climate change, we think of a case where conscience and convenience cross paths. We’re dealing with this existential threat to the planet, and increasing our economic growth and prosperity are one and the same,” Biden said. “When I think of climate change and the answers to it, I think of jobs.”
Biden said that his administration’s “Build Back Better” recovery plan works toward “building a modern, resilient climate infrastructure and clean energy future” that will create millions of “good paying, union jobs.”
Like McCarthy, Biden made clear that the task force his climate adviser leads will “revitalize the economies of coal, oil and gas and power plant communities” without having to uproot them.
“We have to start by creating new good paying jobs — capping those abandoned wells, reclaiming mines, turning old brown field sites into new hubs of economic growth,” Biden said. “Creating new good paying jobs in those communities where those workers live because they help build this country.”
Watch the White House briefing and Biden’s remarks below: