US President Joe Biden associates climate action with creating job opportunities. Last night, he addressed the American people precisely that in his first address before a joint session with Congress.
"For far too long, when it comes to dealing with the climate crisis, we have neglected to use the most important word," Biden said. "jobs, jobs, jobs," he emphasized.
Promoting Job Opportunities
Biden used his speech to support the American Jobs Plan, his $2 trillion green infrastructure proposal, and highlight his attempts to re-establish the US's role as a global climate leader.
But, he also went off the beaten path, speaking specifically to blue-collar workers and rural areas, who frequently feel left behind in the movement for a clean economy, and promising them that they will play an important role in the transformation. His message was clear: embracing green energies, which would provide the United States with fiscal, political, and job opportunities, is downright patriotic.
Nearly 90% of the infrastructure positions provided by the American Jobs Plan do not need a college diploma, and 75% do not require an associate's degree, according to Biden, who dubbed the initiative a "blue-collar roadmap to develop America."
Blue-Collar Workers Working for a Greener Future
Construction workers and electricians, he said, would help usher in the country's green future by laying the power lines. He praised farmers who grow cover crops to absorb more carbon dioxide. He also suggested that wind turbine blades could be produced in Pittsburgh rather than Beijing.
"So many of the people I grew up with felt abandoned or forgotten," Biden, a Scranton native, said. "Our economy is transforming at such a breakneck pace that it is alarming. I'd like to talk with you directly. Since, after all, it is what most people are concerned with. Is it possible for me to fit in?"
Importance of Blue-Collar Workers
Biden's attempts to include blue-collar workers and agricultural areas in the energy revolution show his ability to counteract the complexities of a Republican Party that attempted to redefine itself as the working class under Donald Trump.
Biden administration is under pressure to show it cares for the well-being of the working class. A study found jobs in nuclear and fossil fuel industries receive higher incomes than those in the wind and solar.
It's also why, just days after taking office, he formed an interagency coalition to help distressed coal and power plant neighborhoods revitalize their economies.
Biden's attempts to use the renewable energy revolution as an economic boost for the country's middle class have gotten endorsement from labor unions. The president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Lonnie Stephenson, called the Biden administration's "most systematic approach yet to lift up workers and labor" a proposed White House task force to encourage collective bargaining.
Environmentalists have also given their approval. "In his first 100 days, President Biden has taken ambitious and unprecedented action to restore US climate leadership, promote environmental justice, build opportunities, and drive us toward a pollution-free, 100 percent renewable energy future that benefits everyone," said Abigail Dillen, president of the environmental organization Earthjustice.
Biden's speech to Congress represented a broader change in the direction Democrats seek to reframe climate action, describing it as the course the United States must follow to survive politically, rather than merely a tool for survival.
It's a thread that runs through Biden's international climate priorities, including being a pioneer in green energy production and designing and producing the infrastructure and parts required for wind turbines, solar panels, electric cars, and electric transmission. Biden continued to single out China as a nation that the US could not allow to catch up to growth.
Staying in the Country
China is currently leading the race to be the world's leading clean energy technology provider, producing the bulk of the world's wind turbines, solar photovoltaics, and lithium-ion battery cells used in electric cars. According to polls, it's also the nation that Americans see as the US's biggest foe, and fighting China's rising dominance is one of the only topics in Congress with bipartisan support.
Climate action was described as imperative in Biden's speech, not because natural disasters are becoming more common and catastrophic - climate effects were not mentioned once - but because the American people need to "win the twenty-first century." Biden is counting on pride and a deep-seated desire to be number one to bring Americans together and lead the world toward a low-carbon future.
"All of the investments in the American Jobs Plan would be led by one idea, as my father would say," Biden added. "Buy American."
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