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Biden’s game-changing administrative actions for climate at COP27

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By Rob Moir

· 3 min read

With rising seas, fighting climate change is a participatory challenge of us against the elements. It is all hands-on deck reducing carbon emissions and increasing carbon drawdown.

President Biden stood by the Red Sea in Egypt on Nov. 11th before delegates from 197 nations at the UN Climate Conference COP27. With Congress hogtied on delivering on any climate change pledges because Republicans had taken a slim majority of the House of Representatives, Biden took command with administrative actions that would slow global warming to achieve the objective of 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) rise above preindustrial levels by 2030.

Major federal government contractors interested in bidding for any of the over $630 billion that the US Government spends annually would be required to publicly disclose their greenhouse gas emissions, climate-related financial risks and set science-based emission reduction targets.

In short, corporations without a responsible carbon emission plan with accountable benchmarks will not be awarded government contracts. It is a waste of taxpayers’ money for the government to pay companies that are not implementing steps to reduce their carbon emissions while also compensating communities for damages caused by extreme weather events and sea level rise.

Biden’s solution for businesses is not prescriptive or regulatory, but rather market driven and competitive. Businesses are incentivized to develop their best carbon-emission-reducing practices. Game on.

The process is transparent where all may see what companies propose as their best practices. With government contracts at stake, it is likely business groups will collaborate to fast-track the development of best practices and not get caught without a government contract.

This is game over for corporate greenwashing. How green a corporation is will be quantified by the actual amount of carbon emissions being reduced right now and more in the future. Less important are flaunted superficial factors such as percent of recycled materials, number of trees planted, or carbon offsets purchased. Public records will demonstrate to what extent corporations are fighting climate change or colluding with global warming.

Biden has taken a page from the Massachusetts Decarbonization Roadmap Act of 2020, where the government works with businesses to develop best practices to reduce emissions and set ambitious timed benchmarks. Businesses who snooze, lose, while the decarbonization and money-saving train leaves the station.

For example, about a decade ago, Frito-Lay, a subsidiary of Pepsi, improved the fuel efficiency of their delivery trucks. This led to a dramatic increase in applications of drivers. Many were climate champions who wished to show off green trucks. Recently Frito-Lay announced the purchase of 40 Ford eTransit trucks.

The work is put back on corporations by setting the bar for government contracts to meet carbon-reducing benchmarks. World leaders understand that government expenditures should remediate and not worsen climate change. There are costs borne by everyone to buying diesel locomotives. Better for governments to follow the lead of Canada and Australia to purchase battery-electric 4,400 horsepower locomotives built in Erie, Pennsylvania.

We are slowing global temperature rise as corporations working with governments are being held to task by savvy citizens, while turning the tide to reduce the 900 billion tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and put back into the 2800 billion tons of carbohydrates in organic water-holding soils as more climate-best practices take hold.

It is just a matter of effort and time. We can do this.

This article is also published on the author's blog. Illuminem Voices is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of leading Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

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About the author

Rob Moir, PhD, is Executive Director of the Ocean River Institute and Director of Global Warming Solutions IE-PAC in Cambridge Massachusetts. He is an educator, scientist, and advocate with a proven history of institutional management and climate policy success.

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