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Biden’s First 100 days: A Climate Resilience Appraisal

By Joyce Coffee
Climate Resilience

This article on the Biden administration’s plans and how they could affect climate resilience was written with Laurie Schoeman.

How has President Biden’s first 100 days in office helped us as we continue through this resilience decade? What’s the very early scorecard on climate change risk disclosures and the financial markets?

In a new CNN Poll, the president gets the highest rating for his performance during the first 100 days for his leadership on environmental policy, with a net positive rating of 54 percent. What is clear is his team has the social capital, vision, commitment and know-how to drive an agenda that builds an equitable, resilient and strong nation.

It’s encouraging that the new president’s climate action strategy includes important and valid emphasis on climate change mitigation. He has spoken favorably about decreasing greenhouse gas emissions primarily through increasing investments in renewable power, while increasing regulations to direct the private sector toward more efficient technologies and operations. Nevertheless, to connect this strategy to apply to all Americans, the White House must emphasize climate resilience. So far, the administration’s policies are trending in a positive direction.

Here is our top seven list of the administration’s most impactful efforts to build a climate-resilient nation.

Seven key steps the new administration has taken toward climate resilience

President Biden has reinstated America as a leader in domestic and international climate action by rejoining the Paris Agreement, committing to both decrease global greenhouse gas emissions and boost climate resilience in our communities.

The administration has so far positioned seasoned and respected leaders to champion the international and domestic climate agenda and put climate action into practice, including Cecilia Martinez, Senior Director of Environmental Justice at the White House Council on Environmental Quality; Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Department of the Interior; Michael Regan, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; Gina McCarthy National Senior Climate Advisor; and John Kerry, International Climate Envoy.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen committed her department to examine the financial risks of climate change; to wield Treasury’s broad powers to tackle potential risks to the financial system posed climate change imposes; and to the appointment of a senior official to lead climate initiatives.

The Federal Reserve has launched a climate committee to assess the implications of climate change risks on the U.S. financial system, including banks, corporations and infrastructure.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency has issued a “Request for Input” on integrating climate risk management for its regulated entities that include Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and the Federal Home Loan Bank to investigate housing finance system climate risks disclosure and management.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has begun work on potential regulations that would require companies to disclose exposure to climate risk; it is evaluating climate disclosure guidelines, and it has prepared a detailed questionnaire seeking industry feedback until mid-June.

And finally, the Commodity Future Trading Commission has announced a new Climate Risk Unit that follows on its groundbreaking 2020 report, Managing Climate Risk in the U.S. Financial System.

So what's next?

These all are significant advances. But at a moment when the nation is emerging from the economic and community disruption of the century’s largest health crisis, every move the Biden Administration makes must be related to supporting both Main Street and Wall Street. Next week, we will discuss several initiatives on which the new administration can lead that we believe can bolster climate resilience along with the economic infrastructure of the nation.

Co-author Laurie Schoeman is the co-founder of Resilience 21 and leads Enterprise Community Partners efforts to preserve and protect affordable housing across the nation from the risks and impacts of natural hazards and a changing climate.

Image credit: Tabrez Syed/Unsplash

Joyce Coffee headshot

Joyce Coffee, LEED AP, is founder and President of Climate Resilience Consulting. She is an accomplished organizational strategist and visionary leader with over 25 years of domestic and international experience in the corporate, government and non-profit sectors implementing resilience and sustainability strategies, management systems, performance measurement, partnerships, benchmarking and reporting.

Read more stories by Joyce Coffee