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Millennium Post

A collective crisis

Ever since he has taken office, Joe Biden has sought to return America to its various positions of leadership in the global community. Whether it be a matter of health or human rights, America is making big moves to return the world to an era where 'Pax Americana' actually meant something. One of these areas of potential global cooperation where America is looking to gain a leadership position is climate change. Following four years of political flip-flopping on climate change science under Donald Trump, America has taken a step towards climate change mitigation in a big way. First and foremost, it has rejoined the global conversation and second, Joe Biden has announced climate change to be the focus of a host of domestic policies such as those relating to jobs and infrastructure. This is all part of Biden's plan to transition America to a 'green economy' in the near future. And Biden is quite serious. Getting climate veteran John Kerry on board as his climate envoy was a start. Biden followed up by cancelling the controversial Keystone XL pipeline extension on literally his first day in office. He has also touted a USD 2 trillion climate change package which will soon be rolled out to provide America a way to start getting its carbon emissions in the coming years as part of its 2050 pledge to be carbon-neutral. US Democrats are taking advantage of their present domination of US Congress and the White House by bringing forth bold new bills that they see as urgent remedies to the callous disregard of the Trump years. One such bill was recently introduced by four Congressional Democrats and was labelled the BUILD GREEN Infrastructure and Jobs Act. The bill envisages an investment of USD 500 billion over the next decade in state, local and tribal projects to start transitioning the nation's public transport infrastructure to an 'all-green' form while also creating well-paying jobs in the process. Proponents of the bill have pointed towards the decaying state of America's infrastructure and how a revamp was long overdue. They have used Biden's 'Build Back Better' campaign promise to assert that you cannot build back better right now if you don't build back cleaner. In some ways, this new plan does rebrand many of the same stipulations and assertions that first featured in the Green New Deal and as such can expect to run into a solid wall of partisan backbiting and bickering as it tries to make its way through Congress. On the international front, Biden has called for a huge 'Earth Day Summit' on April 22-23. The conference will be a big affair as it will bring together 40 of the world's biggest nations in a single summit months before COP-26 which is set to take place in Glasgow later this year. Among these group of 40 nations will be 19 nations that contribute to around 80 per cent of the world's collective carbon emissions. Even more significantly, Biden has indicated that both Russia and China are invited to the summit. This is important because this invitation comes at a time when the US is turning up the temperature in its confrontations against both China and Russia. The US has hit out at both in recent times with fresh waves of sanctions and increasingly pointed statements. In recent times, the US has had very well-publicised feuds with the two powers as well including the combative US-Chinese meeting at Anchorage, Alaska and the Biden-Putin war of words regarding Biden's recent comments that Putin is 'a killer'. But even as diplomatic relations between the US and its rivals reach all-time lows, there are still areas of cooperation that remain intact. One of those is climate change, an area that the Biden administration broadly believes cooperation is entirely possible with the two world powers. The summit, which shall see participation from leaders ranging from Saudi Arabia's King Salman to India's PM Modi, is aimed at not only allowing leaders a platform to present their own ambitious steps to curb carbon emissions in the short run but to also discuss how to inculcate climate change action into plans to restart and reignite the global economy and create new jobs. Ahead of this summit, the US is also expected to unveil all-new 2030 climate change aspirations while also encouraging other nations to follow the US example. Thus, for the US and the world, the upcoming summit is not only a good opportunity to move a stagnant climate change debate but to also participate in some much-needed bridge building in a global order that has recently been frayed by outbreaks of suspicion and hostility. After all, nothing unites the world like a collective crisis that no one nation can hope to tackle.

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