By Jeff Berardelli and Caitlin Yilek
27 January 2021/1 p.m.
/ CBS News
President Biden has made tackling climate change a priority for his administration and in his early days signed a number of implementing regulations in line with his ambitious climate change agenda, which included re-entering the Paris Climate Agreement and revoking approval for the Keystone XL pipeline
“We are in a crisis”, Mr Biden said in December, “We need a unified national response to climate change. We must face the moment with the urgency it demands, as you would with any national emergency”
One of the leaders of his climate change agenda is Gina McCarthy, who the president tapped as his national climate advisor. Under President Obama, McCarthy headed the Environmental Protection Agency
McCarthy spoke to CBS News on Tuesday about Mr. Biden’s climate protection initiatives and how he wants to approach environmental justice and integrate his climate protection agenda into the financial sector. The following interview was edited for the sake of length and clarity
Jeff Berardelli: You have a great job ahead of you You will coordinate the climate in different departments and agencies There is a lot on your plate How do you plan to do your job?
Gina McCarthy: President Biden made it so not just that I walk around like a madwoman, but like a madwoman working with some really outstanding people in the Cabinet. This is a whole-of-government approach, this is about making sure the Federal government power can be used to create a future that we can proudly give to our children, a healthier future that understands that we are in a pandemic and need to be mindful of science and facts. It’s a future that says that we will base our decisions on real evidence and that we will recognize that climate change is a catastrophe. There is such an opportunity today, right before we can provide more affordable, exciting and truly breakthrough solutions
People don’t often see climate change as an opportunity but it is an opportunity to transform our future into a better future, economically, healthily, our society in general. What are some of the biggest initiatives you’ve planned to move forward?
We want to achieve an energy sector that is clean by 2035 One of the things we have to do is get started right away to make sure our electricity is generated by clean energy. This shift has already started, but we need to make some adjustments See the guidelines at our disposal We must continue to ensure that clean energy on land and abroad is welcomed, and it continues to win in the market
One of the greatest opportunities we have is federal sourcing which means we are spending a lot of money What we spend on it affects the markets If we really want clean energy to go ahead, we have to start spending federal dollars to make sure we are sending the right signals to the private sector and the market, but we are also using our dollars to cut costs
There are wonderful ways to drive clean cars into the system, pun intended we can really make things so that people get the kind of vehicles they want to drive at the price they want
We’re going to push these issues forward, not just with federal procurement, but regulatory standards recognizing that fossil fuel cars are polluting the environment and causing air quality issues, especially in areas where communities are left behind were – those who cannot get investment and have not done so for many years because systemic racism continues to prevail in this country. We need to step up and make sure that investment goes to these communities
In Mr Biden’s plan, he says, will give about 40% of the money to underserved communities. How do you plan to approach environmental justice, including a just transition for these abandoned workers?
We don’t want to leave people behind We, in fact, want to focus on the communities that have been left behind Part of the effort set out in the Executive Ordinance signed today is to make sure we set up an environmental task force, who will guide this effort
Forty percent of that effort and investment really needs to benefit the lagging communities. So this can be anything as simple as taking a look at where standards are being set and making sure they address the cumulative effects that are Really affected air quality, causing significant air pollution leading to terrible health inequalities.In particular, we can see this under COVID-19.We know who is dying in greater numbers than anyone else – it’s the browns and blacks as well as the indigenous communities and the low-income communities most challenged
We’re going to look at things like oil and gas leases and look at some of those programs – and not implement them in a way that requires a transition faster than we can support. We’re going to do nothing and forget the rest of what people are doing need
Senator Schumer asked Mr Biden deliberately to explain a climate emergency. Could that be on the cards?
We’re going to think about it.We have a number of executive orders and announcements that are going to be published.It’s my job to bring each agency together.I’ll lead a new task force that is each agency head.We’ll sit around and get our little pens out and see how this budget looks like and how we take some of those zeros and add them to numbers elsewhere so we can do what we need to do for the American public
We will look at the budgets We will look at investments We will look at standards We will try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions We will try to build resilience in our cities and rural communities
Climate lawyers have wanted the Fed to address this for years. Now we’re hearing that the Fed is going to develop a climate committee. What does that mean? How will that affect the way banks do business?
The exciting thing is that we have my good friend Brian Deese, the chairman of the National Economic Council, and Janet Yellen, who has just been confirmed as Treasury Secretary by the Senate and who are already running from the start to talk about how we can completely improve the climate Integrate into the financial sector It’s about transparency, it’s about risk One of the things that we sometimes fail to get under control is the fact that climate change is both a domestic risk that we can see and an enormous international risk It is basically a national security risk, but a huge disruptive factor for the financial systems
I look forward to a financial sector where you and I can choose who to bank with because I know what their commitment is and where they put their money I want a financial sector that explains why it’s in Invests things that make our lives riskier or the financial sector riskier
First published on 27 January 2021/1 p.m.
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World news – USA – Climate advisor Gina McCarthy on Biden’s ambitious climate agenda