Joe Biden, from the day of his inauguration, has signed various executive orders to reverse as soon as possible some of the policies promoted and carried out by his predecessor Donald Trump. Among these, the re-entry into the Paris Agreement stands out as he had announced since the election campaign. The Paris Agreement is not an agreement that binds the signatory states – all of them for now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but relies on the mutual control of international diplomacy to make this happen.

The fight against the climate crisis is at the center of the political agenda among the Biden administration’s priorities, writes the White House. In this regard, one would wonder if the United States was now ready, with COP26 in the autumn, to strengthen and perhaps try to insert binding clauses. Antonello Pasini- climate physicist at the CNR whom we interviewed for Scienza in rete does not believe that it is easy for the US even if with Biden, to accept binding rules, which they never wanted and which as free-marketers they have avoided even with other administrations. Despite this, given that the commitments made by the new President are substantial, he believes that even if the US also takes the path that Europe has already taken it will be possible to trigger a virtuous circle with cascading effects on the rest of the world as well. In a globalized economy, there is no risk of going against the current.

On the White House website, on the Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad page, details of the measures adopted so far in the climate field are reported. First of all transversal coordination between the various ministries energy, economy, etc secretariats, and offices are recognized and foreseen, which accounts for the inevitable integrated and interdisciplinary approach necessary to stem the ecological crisis in progress. In this regard, a White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy has been set up within the executive office of the President, which will coordinate the process of developing internal climate policies. Also, a National Climate Task Force has been established(“National Climate Task Force), chaired by the National Climate Advisor a figure that is added to that created ad hoc as Presidential Envoy for Climate which will be held by the former Secretary of State under Obama, John Kerry.

The intentions, therefore, seem rather serious the Guardian reports that Gina McCarthy, Biden’s chief climate advisor, has confirmed that the President is intent on reversing the course in more than a hundred environmental policies promulgated by Trump. This seems to be the case, for example, with the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline which is supposed to transport oil to be refined from Canada to the United States, and which Biden wants to block; as well as oil and gas drilling near the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante parks in Utah which are a national Arctic wildlife refuge.

Bloomberg says the 1,210-mile Keystone pipeline was designed to transport more than 800,000 barrels per day of Canadian oil sands crude to refineries in the United States when it was due to enter service in 2023” and that it was supposed to create about 13,000 jobs. But in presidential provisions, Biden says America needs millions of construction, manufacturing, engineering, and skilled workers to build new American infrastructure and clean energy economy. Jobs, therefore, to make the ecological transition. On the other hand, it seems to follow the suggestions of the International Energy Agency that in its recovery plan estimates employment of around 9 million people between 2021 and 2023 for the energy transition alone.

As the New York Times writes, blocking drilling for fossil fuels “has infuriated the oil industry and has become a central theme in the struggle for the critical state of Pennsylvania, where the method of extracting natural gas, known as fracturing plumbing, or fracking, has become big business. Joe Biden’s ability will therefore also exercise adequate leadership to overcome the pressures of the oil and gas world. Fossil fuel, the latter, often erroneously considered “transitional” and in which many fossil companies still invest (among others the Italian Eni).

Another theme that characterized the Trump presidency, the wall with Mexico, would also have environmental repercussions. In Scientific American which he first openly endorsed Biden’s candidacy, we read that numerous environmental groups (such as the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club, or the Southwest Environmental Center) have indicated specific points in which to tear down part of the wall. As a corridor for migratory wildlife in New Mexico important for jaguars and an international herd of bison” or at the “San Pedro River in Arizona” which would be “the last free-flowing river in the state since the wall was built through it last year or even Quitobaquito Springs in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

In general, it appears that the entire political agenda of the Biden-Harris administration is entirely based on science, but with eminent political responsibilities. On this, for example, Science signals Joe Biden’s desire to update the social cost of carbon, through a special Working Group the decision, it says, should come shortly. As Science writes, it is expected to rise from $ 1 under Trump to $ 125 in the next month and even higher in January 2022. Evidently, however, not all climate policy can be carried out through executive orders from the President: the Guardian, in fact, reports that it will be more complicated than expected to implement the much-proclaimedGreen New Deal, promoted among others by Democratic MP Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. The majority in the Senate, in fact, is quite small the 51 Democratic senators (including Kamala Harris acting as chairman of the classroom) against the other 50 Republicans may not all be so willing to authorize powerful state interventions in the American economy.

Yet, the estimate reported by the latest UNEP Emission Gap Report is particularly interesting, according to which the climate policies of the Biden-Harris administration could bring the temperature increase from 3.2 ° C (current estimate) to about 2.5 ° C. global average for the end of the century. According to Antonello Pasini, “it would already be a result, but I fear that it is not enough to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Many recent studies show that after 2 ° C there is a strong risk that phenomena can trigger that can lead the temperature to “go tangent” with no more possibility of “control” on our part. However, I believe that others will follow this trend towards reduction, which now seems to be a trend in the globalized economy too.

Pasini refers for example to the so-called tipping points beyond which the reaction of the biosphere following rising temperatures or overexploitation of ecosystems – would accelerate. Carbon Brief reports nine tipping points, which essentially have to do with melting glaciers, shifting biomes, and changes in atmospheric circulation: loss of permafrost, the collapse of part of the Antarctic and Greenland ice, interruption of the ‘reversal south of the Atlantic circulation », West African and Indian monsoon shift, boreal forest shift, Amazon forest loss, coral reef death.

All this can be avoided with a structured ecological transition and, to a large extent, energy transition on a global level and for which COP26, as already mentioned, will be crucial. On this point, however, thanks to the effect on the markets of more or less stringent international agreements and more or less targeted public investments, it is necessary to appreciate how much the costs of renewable energy are progressively decreasing and in some cases plummeting. The UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in 2020, according to Carbon Brief, estimated the cost of onshore wind for 2025 at £ 46 / MWh and solar at £ 44 / MWh, updating the estimates made in 2013 (£ 95 / MWh and £ 89 / MWh respectively). These costs are much lower than gas – and the use of carbon capture and storage does not affect the estimates – (85 £ / MWh for 2025) and nuclear power which is even slightly up (102 £ / MWh).

The Biden-Harris Administration, therefore, fits into a context in which the market has already started a transition process which, however, must be strengthened and accelerated by coordinated action by the states. Now that Trump has momentarily been sidelined, the United States and Europe – also by their great historical responsibility as emitters of greenhouse gases – will have to lead the decarbonization of the world economy as leaders. Starting from the dialogue with China which, according to Antonello Pasini, has «an absolutely important role. Among other things, China, for its part, has declared quite remarkable reduction targets, even behind a strong push from below (I remember that in China people really died of pollution, and in part still die there). The situation of relations with India and Brazil is certainly more difficult, even if the thrust from below seems to be starting to feel there too ». We will monitor the situation.