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The unlikely climate president – Axios

President Biden campaigned on a climate platform vastly stronger than any major party nominee in history, and now the White House is making its enactment a major priority.

Why it matters: It’s a remarkable turn, given that Biden entered the race as a moderate and climate wasn’t a top priority during his Senate career.

  • No White House has put climate so high on its governing agenda since global warming burst onto the political scene in the scorching summer of 1988.

Catch up fast: The White House has offered a formal pledge under the Paris climate deal to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.

  • It’s asking Congress for unprecedented investments in climate innovation and infrastructure.
  • Biden is also trying to use agencies government-wide in the service of cutting emissions — and helping other countries do so — in a way that’s never been attempted.

The big picture: Here’s why Biden became the unlikely climate candidate and president:

1. Politics. Democratic voters have become more motivated by the topic. Going big helped Biden woo Bernie Sanders backers to vote in the general election.

  • It also helped appease activists who pressed Biden for steps like trying to ban fracking (though Biden rebuffed them there).
  • Biden even moved left after securing the nomination, adding a target of 100% zero-carbon power by 2035 and other provisions to his platform.

2. Opportunity. Democrats’ unexpected Senate control, combined with the pandemic, create an opening for big economic recovery legislation packed with climate spending.

3. Science. Major reports in the last few years have revealed the immense dangers if the world fails to act aggressively and rapidly.

Yes, but: It’s too early to know whether Biden can transform his proposals into steep emissions cuts.

Go deeper:

Biden pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 52% by 2030

The Biden climate doctrine emerges at summit

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