The US re-joining the Paris Climate Agreement under a Biden administration while its military continues to be such a high source of emissions are “contradictory” activities, says one US political expert.
Boston University political science department chair Neta Crawford said Joe Biden will be constrained in the changes he can make by the Republican-controlled Senate.
America would be more diplomatic in its foreign policy but much of it would remain the same as it had Donald Trump, Crawford said.
“In some ways remarkably different in tone, and it will be much more diplomatic, on the other hand certain things will stay much the same," she told TVNZ1's Breakfast.
“I think everyone will breathe a sigh of relief with the less aggressive tone, but it remains to be seen how much this president will achieve unless he has control of the Senate, which has a lot to say about US foreign policy.”
One drastic change under Biden would be America’s approach to tackling the climate crisis.
“Joining the Paris Climate Accord, which he [Biden] intends to do immediately, is important but it’s just a first step,” Crawford said.
“The United States needs to take much more dramatic action because we’ve lost four years on climate and it’s a dramatic four years indeed, the US has gone backwards.”
“The United States’ military greenhouse gas emissions and the world’s military greenhouse gas emissions are as high as international aviation, those have to get under control.”
“On the one hand you can say you want to re-join the Paris Accord, on the other hand, if you keep up emissions in this sector, you’re sort of cutting off your nose to spite your face, these are contradictory activities.”
Biden would be able to make immediate changes by executive order, which can be overturned by the next president, Crawford said.
“What he will do immediately I think is increase US auto standards, so mileage standards will go up, he will immediately try to fund an energy transition and thereby create jobs,” she said.
“He’s going to be constrained a little bit by the budget, much of the attention is still on Covid and the economy, as it should be, I think.”
“There’s much we can’t do unless we get Covid under control.”