In 2010, data shows, only 28% of Americans ranked climate change as a top government priority. By 2018, that share of Americans jumped to 46%. On Monday, President Joe Biden boasted at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, that Americans have now finally “seen the Lord” on the issue.
“I know, in the United States, just because of the leadership of people behind me — like former Secretary Kerry and Senator Kerry, and a lot of you as well — that the American people four or five years ago weren’t at all sure about climate change — whether it was real,” Biden said in remarks to delegates after delivering his COP26 leaders statement.
“Well, they have, as they say in southern parts of my state, seen the Lord. They’ve seen what’s happened back home, the incredible changes that are taking place. And they’re now finally ... realizing the sense of urgency that you all are,” Biden told world leaders.
He said in his COP26 statement that climate change is “ravaging the world,” costing trillions and destroying lives and livelihoods.
Earlier this year, a report published by the Yale Program on Climate Communication drawing from a survey of 949 registered voters stated that 53% of registered voters say global warming should be a high or very high priority for the president and Congress.
Some 66% also agree that developing clean energy sources should be a high or very high priority for government leaders.
Majorities of registered voters were shown to support a range of policies to reduce carbon pollution, promote clean energy, reduce energy use, improve efficiency, conservation and restoration and foster international cooperation on global warming.
“It’s costing our nations trillions of dollars. Record heat and drought are fueling more widespread and more intense wildfires in some places and crop failures in others. Record flooding and what used to be a once-in-a-century storms are now happening every few years,” Biden said Monday.
“In the past few months, the United States has experienced all of this, and every region of the world can tell similar stories. And in an age where this pandemic has made so painfully clear that no nation can … wall itself off from borderless threats, we know that none of us can escape the worse that’s yet to come if we fail to seize this moment.”
Biden urged world leaders at the summit organized by the United Nations and expected to end on Nov. 12 that it is in the “self-interest” of their countries to “make a generational investment” to meet the challenges of climate change.
“My Build Back Better framework will make historic investments in clean energy, the most significant investment to deal with the climate crisis that any advanced nation has made ever,” Biden said.
“We’re going to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by well over a gigaton by 2030 while making it more affordable for consumers to save on their own energy bills with tax credits for things like installing solar panels, weatherizing their homes, lowering energy prices. We’ll also deliver cleaner air and water for our children, electrifying fleets of school buses, increasing credits for electric vehicles, and addressing legacy pollution.”
The president further added that he connects with the American people on the issue by linking climate change to jobs.
“When I talk to the American people about climate change, I tell them it’s about jobs. It’s about workers who will lay thousands of miles of transmission lines of clean, modern, resilient power grid. The autoworkers who will build the next generation of electric vehicles and electricians who will install a nationwide network of 500,000 vehicle stations to power them throughout my country,” Biden said.
“And because we are taking all these actions, the United States will be able to meet the ambitious target I set in the Leaders’ Summit on Climate back in April, reducing the U.S. emissions by 50% to 52% below 2005 levels by 2030.”
In one of his first acts as president, Biden signed an executive order to have the U.S. rejoin the Paris climate agreement months after former President Donald Trump formally withdrew from the pact in late 2020. Biden apologized for Trump’s decision.
“I guess I shouldn’t apologize, but I do apologize for the fact the United States, in the last administration, pulled out of the Paris Accords and put us sort of behind the eight ball a little bit. That was the first thing I did when elected,” he said.
In his statement, Biden urged developed nations to support developing nations in meeting climate targets and pushed for countries responsible for most of the world’s deforestation to do better.
“Those of us who are responsible for much of the deforestation and all the problems we have so far have an overwhelming obligation to the nations who, in fact, were not there, have not done it. And we have to help much more than we have thus far,” Biden said. “God bless you all, and may God save the planet.”