Joe Biden’s 2021 Climate Report Card

President Joe Biden attends an Action on Forests and Land Use event on day three of COP26. Photo: Paul Ellis/Pool (Getty Images)

Let’s start with the most diverse bags, the area that perhaps most perfectly defines the challenges facing President Joe Biden. One of the first things he did was bring the US back into the Paris Agreement, followed a few months later by committing: Reduce CO2 emissions at least 50% in 2030. This is good, but not in line with what a “fair share” of emissions, as the US is the largest historical carbon polluter. Yet it gave the world a 50-50 shot to meet the temperature targets of the Paris Agreement, which is not nothing.

But during the United Nations’ climate talks in Glasgow, the government was a sometimes nefarious force. The final pact that it played an important role in shaping can be described, like so many international agreements before it, as progress and not nearly enough. The US also signed a few side agreements they were fine, but the most important of all was not signed: a pact that a alliance to end fossil fuel exploration.

Shortly after the talks ended, the government opened the largest fossil fuel lease sale in American history. If we split the grade down, we’d give an A- for rhetoric and a D for execution. (To be fair, most countries scored the same. But remember, no curve!)

Rank: C

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