U.S. President-elect Joe Biden will come to office in January with the most ambitious climate plan of any U.S. President in history. But domestic and international observers alike are waiting to see how big an impact the Biden administration might have given the narrow margins the administration will enjoy in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.
When it comes to domestic policy, the administration can, at a minimum, draw on existing laws that obviate the need for Congressional approval, such as the Clean Air Act. Given the results of the Georgia Senate elections, the administration also has at its disposal the option to pursue a more ambitious legislative agenda, either by holding the Democratic caucus together or seeking common ground with Republicans on issues such as carbon capture and investments in energy innovation.
On the international front, selecting someone of John Kerry’s stature as climate envoy and giving that person cabinet rank and a seat on the National Security Council signal that the Biden administration intends to go far beyond just rejoining the Paris climate agreement to make climate change a top foreign-policy priority. Indeed, the new administration creates a window of opportunity for a revitalized international climate architecture on issues as diverse as international trade, development finance, nonproliferation, and diplomacy.
In this context, the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia SIPA together with the Columbia Global Centers will jointly host a discussion examining how climate policy is likely to evolve under a Biden administration—and what the administration’s role will be in bringing about those changes.
- Safwan Masri, Executive Vice President for Global Centers and Global Development, Columbia University
- Jason Bordoff, Founding Director, Center on Global Energy Policy and Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
- Michael Gerrard, Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice and Director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School
- Kelly Sims Gallagher, Academic Dean and Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, The Fletcher School, Tufts University