On 20 January 2021, Joe Biden took to a stage that had only recently been vacated by rioters, declared that the world faces “a climate in crisis” and asked: “Are we going to step up?”
So has he? We asked Climate Home News readers and politicians from around the world how they rated the US president’s performance. The reviews were mixed.
Readers were underwhelmed, with our 122 survey respondents giving an average score of 4.8 out of 10.
Mozambique-based conservationist Allan Schwarz called him “just another wet fish flopping about at the whim of big business” while Alaskan fisherman David Beebe complained “Joe’s climate dawgs don’t hunt”.
Swiss professor Francisco Szekely gave Biden more credit, saying “his words and promises were followed by immediate actions”. Israel-based Phyllis Butler Posy said: “Considering the challenges and the Senate stonewalling his appointments, he has done WAY WAY better than could be humanly expected!”
While China’s foreign ministry rarely misses an opportunity to bash the US record, international politicians from allied countries are fairly sympathetic towards Biden. Perhaps because they know from experience the limits of executive power, want to stay in Biden’s good books or are simply relieved they don’t have to deal with Trump.
Climate Home News spoke to current and former environment ministers from Sweden, Pakistan and Canada and Nigeria’s foremost climate MP. None had a bad word to say about Biden or his climate envoy John Kerry.
At home, Biden’s flagship climate legislation has been blocked by his own senators and early attempts to cut oil and gas production have been abandoned under pressure from the courts and rising fuel prices.
Biden has doubled climate finance and doubled it again – but the US still gives less than its fair share, by many analyses. It’s used its influence to push other countries for more ambition and sign up over 100 nations to pursue cuts to methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.