Biden Claims Climate Mandate As Green Groups Push For Aggressive Actions
The mainstream media’s projection that Joe Biden would win the race for the White House prompted the former vice president to claim a climate mandate from voters wanting bold action on energy and environmental issues.
Delivering his victory speech in Wilmington, Del., Biden listed several issues that dominated the campaign including the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, systemic racism, and also climate. He announced the outcome of the election has “given us a mandate for action.”
Now Biden must translate those words into results while dealing with an increasingly divided Congress and green groups pressuring him to make sweeping policy changes.
Biden’s written plan on his website calls the Green New Deal a “crucial framework” and pledges to achieve a “100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050.” It also calls for stricter limits on methane emissions at oil and natural gas production sites and a ban on fracking on public lands.
While his plan makes no mention of an outright ban on the oil and natural gas industry, during speeches and debates throughout the campaign, Biden repeatedly shifted views, at times claiming he wants to “end fossil fuels” and “transition away from the oil industry,” while also stating “I’m not banning fracking.”
These wavering positions on energy and environment coupled with a Republican majority in the U.S. Senate and a significantly weakened Democratic majority in the U.S. House will test Biden’s claim to a climate mandate and his ability to pass major legislation.
But the biggest environmental activist groups around the country, many of whom were lukewarm towards Biden during the Democratic primary or were hostile towards his candidacy, appear unwilling to let Biden backtrack on his climate pledges as president. They demanded that Biden embrace their climate agenda if he wanted their political and financial backing in the general election against President Trump, and they are now looking to make good on that deal.
And like Biden, those groups similarly claimed a “climate mandate” from voters and began immediately calling on Biden to fulfill his climate goals with vows of “accountability.”
“The Sierra Club congratulates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on this victory, and celebrates their decisive mandate to begin immediate executive action on the strongest climate, clean energy, and environmental justice platform ever advanced by a presidential ticket,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in a statement.
The Sunrise Movement, an avowed opponent of Biden during the Democratic primary and reluctant supporter during the general election returned to an adversarial posture, threatening to become critics if Biden didn’t act on his political mandate.
Joe Biden’s about to get whiplash from how quickly young people turn back into his harshest critics if he doesn’t deliver on the political mandate this election delivered.
We showed up to vote Trump out with clearer margins than any generation. We expect results.
— Sunrise Movement 🌅 (@sunrisemvmt) November 7, 2020
Similarly, 350.org vowed to hold Biden’s incoming administration “accountable” to their own climate agenda which includes a demand to stop oil and natural gas production.
We will work with Biden/Harris and hold them accountable for a just and equitable transition away from fossil fuels to a renewable, regenerative economy that puts our health and safety first. pic.twitter.com/C6g5YgvRrJ
— 350 dot org (@350) November 8, 2020
These post-election statements are the latest in a series of moves from green groups to pressure Biden on policy and governmental appointments. In the closing days of the race, Western Wire reported on the influence campaign to stop Biden from hiring fossil fuel industry executives and lobbyists into top administration jobs, and they praised Biden’s comments to “transition away” from oil as the right direction he should take as president.