By Abigail Knopps
President-Elect Joe Biden’s climate plans are ambitious and some might say revolutionary but what do they mean for the construction industry and how will the United States actually achieve the goals?
Biden’s plan for “a clean energy revolution” will lead his actions over the next four years. For Biden, climate change mitigation goes hand in hand with protecting our country from national security threats.
As the United States moves to a clean energy economy, Biden believes that “if we can harness all of our energy and talents, and unmatchable American innovation, we can turn this threat into an opportunity to revitalize the U.S. energy sector and boost growth economy-wide”.
Below is a brief overview of the five main points of the proposed climate policy based on President-Elect Joe Biden’s official website.
This is a call to action for both stakeholders and states alike to alter their actions and make the transition to 100% energy consumption from renewable resources such as wind, hydro, and solar. Because this process will take some time, it is vital that we start making rapid improvements to our current infrastructure so that we will meet the ambitious goals. To this end, by using the power of the executive branch of government, Biden will sign a series of executive orders (presidential directives requiring the response of the federal government or other agencies) to create mechanisms and programs that will enforce the 2050 goal, make major investments in clean energy and climate research, and incentivize firms and manufacturers to switch to clean alternatives.
The United States is already experiencing the devastating effects of climate change. In order to mitigate the effect of the crisis the nation needs to come together. To this end, Biden will give local leaders a clear voice in his administration.
Currently, the US only accounts for 15% of global emissions. As a result, if meaningful changes to our current crisis are going to occur, it requires the cooperation of the whole world. By re-entering the Paris Climate Agreement on his first day in office, Biden will set the stage that America is making radical efforts to reduce their contributions to climate change. Biden will push to “raise the ambitions of countries’ climate targets” (Campaign Website).
We cannot turn a blind eye to how climate change affects communities of color and lower-income communities at a much higher rate than others communities. To that end, communities that directly affected by climate change must be the first to benefit from the clean energy revolution.
We have an obligation to make sure that people still have meaningful jobs as we switch to clean energy alternatives. When done effectively, these improvements will add over 10 million new jobs in the “clean energy economy”.
What does this mean for Construction?
Buildings account for a large share of global carbon emissions (roughly 38%). In order to reduce global emissions to meet the 2050 goal, new efficiency standards (for household appliances, equipment, and building operations) will need to be developed. Once these standards are updated, new training programs will need to be implemented to create consistency throughout new and existing buildings and to make sure that the standards are being met. By making new and existing buildings more energy efficient and climate resilient, drastic reductions in emissions will occur more readily.
As low-carbon alternatives and alternative energy solutions become more widely available and cost-effective, sustainability will become the standard and spur a drive for innovation.