Solving the climate crisis by boosting investments in new technologies will be at the centre of the Biden administration’s job creation agenda, the incoming top economic White House adviser said on Wednesday.
“I think what you are going to see across the president-elect’s rescue-and-recovery strategy is an approach that puts solving the climate crisis at the centre of creating jobs,” Brian Deese, president-elect Joe Biden’s incoming director of the National Economic Council, told the Reuters Next conference.
Biden is expected to present on Thursday his first big policy initiative on economic relief from the COVID-19 crisis.
Deese, who helped negotiate the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate when he worked under U.S. President Barack Obama, said Biden will make good on his promise to rejoin the pact on Day 1. U.S. President Donald Trump began the formal process of removing the United States from the agreement after the Nov. 3 election.
Rejoining the pact will be “just the first” step on working with other countries on climate, Deese said. Biden, who takes office on Jan. 20, will also make good on quickly bringing together the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gases to “increase our collective ambition on emissions reductions,” Deese said.
“Part of … our diplomatic strategy and our economic strategy has to be to work with other countries to push them, push their ambition, even as we have to demonstrate our ability to come back on the stage and show leadership on this issue that has been absent for the last couple of years,” Deese said.
The United States is the second leading emitter of greenhouse gases after China.
Trump has worked to roll back climate regulations and boost production of fossil fuels as part of his “energy dominance” agenda.
Biden campaigned on a goal of taking carbon pollution out of the power sector by 2035.
To achieve such environmental goals “we need to undertake a strategy that couples investment … with clear certainty for the market, so that we can pull the massive quantities of private capital that we ultimately will need,” Deese said. He said certainty about environmental standards can help unleash trillions of dollars in private capital and create millions of jobs.
Deese said the opportunity to create high-paying union jobs exists throughout the clean energy economy whether it’s offshore wind, solar or the industrial sector such as deploying emissions-reduction technologies. The administration will also focus on research and development of new nuclear power technologies, he said. The administration also wants to compete in the growing export market for green technologies.
Under Obama, Deese worked on other top issues such as the bailout of the U.S. auto industry and budget deals with Congress.
The green auto business is an example of an industry where the U.S. can create millions of jobs “if we partner and make the investment upfront to help our companies retool and we invest in the infrastructure to help our consumers to actually make the choice to purchase clean vehicles,” Deese said.