Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Despite early suggestions of a walkback, Joe Biden now appears to be doubling down on his promise to destroy US fossil fuel jobs, by naming climate change the “number one issue facing humanity”.
Joe Biden calls climate change the ‘number one issue facing humanity’
- Joe Biden declared climate change the “number one issue facing humanity” and vowed a national transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy that he says will create millions of new jobs.
- Biden has a $2 trillion plan that puts the U.S. on a path to zero carbon pollution from the electricity sector by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2050.
- Scientists say that Biden’s transition plan is required to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change.
- Climate change has fueled record-setting wildfires in the U.S. West and one of the most active Atlantic hurricane seasons this year.
“It’s the number one issue facing humanity. And it’s the number one issue for me,” Biden said of climate change during an episode of Pod Save America released Saturday. He was interviewed by Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior advisor to President Barack Obama.
“Climate change is the existential threat to humanity,” the former vice president said. “Unchecked, it is going to actually bake this planet. This is not hyperbole. It’s real. And we have a moral obligation.”
“It’s going to create millions of jobs … We can’t be cavalier about the impact it’s going to have on how we’re going to transition to do all this,” Biden said of his plan on the podcast. “But I just think it’s a gigantic opportunity, a gigantic opportunity to create really good jobs.”
It has to be said, doubling down on a controversial issue looks decisive. Some people will give Biden points for his appearance of honesty on this issue.
On the other hand, I suspect Biden has made a classic political mistake. Promising to destroy fossil fuel jobs will play very well with many of Biden’s core supporters. But Biden already has their vote, strategically there is no need to impress motivated core supporters.
Biden’s threat to destroy oil jobs and, by implication, drive up the price of gasoline risks alienating swing voters and undecideds. And for oil workers and people whose jobs depend on fossil fuel, they now have a really good reason to make it to the polling booth on election day, and vote for Trump.
Other elections where leaders have played the climate card offer little guidance. Australia’s Bill Shorten and New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern both tried to win on a platform of hardline commitment to climate action. Australia’s Bill Shorten failed spectacularly, lost an election many described as “unlosable”. New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern won an increased share of the vote.
Australia has a much larger oil, gas and coal industry than New Zealand.
There was never a genuine opportunity for Biden to walk back his promise to destroy jobs, after Biden made such a clear announcement during the Presidential Debate. My personal view, I suspect the firm Democrat commitment to job destruction will contribute significantly to a Trump victory.