Contrasting climate plans, contrasting challenges for B.C.

Biden presidency promises sharp turn in U.S. environmental policies


Among the many stark contrasts between the candidates in the U.S. presidential election, climate policy was among the starkest.

One of the earliest moves of the Donald Trump presidency was to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement on climate change after calling climate change a Chinese hoax. In contrast, Democratic candidate – now president-elect – Joe Biden has proposed a US$2 trillion Green New Deal, which is one of the most ambitious climate initiatives in U.S. history.

Aside from grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change will likely be atop Biden’s list of challenges when he takes office.

One of the major components in Biden’s climate plan that will affect Canada and, more specifically, British Columbia is his opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, which runs from Alberta to refineries in the United States.

Biden’s Green New Deal policy also includes investment in upgrading four million buildings and supporting the construction of electric vehicle infrastructure.

On that score, Trump did not deliver on the massive infrastructure investments he promised in his 2016 campaign.

Trump also repealed the policies of president Barack Obama that were designed to encourage growth in the renewable energy sector.

Biden, on the other hand, has promised to invest taxpayer money in the neglected American renewable energy industry to create jobs.

Trump has made no such commitment.

Increased resources for U.S. clean-energy businesses could generate challenges and opportunities for Canada’s clean-energy industry.

While Biden’s subsidies could give U.S. companies a competitive advantage, more international companies in the sector could increase overall business and economic opportunities for Canadian companies.

Biden’s plan also calls for a 100% carbon emission reduction from the electricity sector in the next 15 years and economy-wide net-zero emissions by 2050.

He has also committed to a number of environmentally friendly regulations, including those rescinded by Trump such as automobile fuel efficiency standards.

Making U.S. environmental standards more consistent with the rest of the world could help Canada’s international competitiveness by making regulatory costs on both sides of the border comparable.