Biden’s naivety on climate was contagious

Any public figure – especially one in office – isn’t allowed to take his or her back-door negotiations with Capitol Hill entirely personally. Not so for Joe Biden. In a new memoir, the former…

Biden's naivety on climate was contagious

Any public figure – especially one in office – isn’t allowed to take his or her back-door negotiations with Capitol Hill entirely personally.

Not so for Joe Biden.

In a new memoir, the former US vice president offers himself up as Exhibit A. During his tenure on Capitol Hill, Biden repeatedly promised the country that he would push for tougher emissions reductions – but once in office, he seemed to forget that the nation needed a new agreement to tackle climate change in a big way.

At the inaugural Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, as he and US President Barack Obama entered office, Biden signed on to pledge the country’s participation in an international pact to reduce emissions.

But when the deal fell apart amid the US Senate’s gridlock over the then-unrealised idea of a cap-and-trade programme, Biden’s allegiance to this first big step seemed suddenly to evaporate.

“I promised the American people, we’d have a cap-and-trade plan,” Biden wrote. “But then the Senate didn’t pass it, and the impact, if there was any at all, was nominal.”

Climate policy critics say it’s only through various carbon reduction programmes initiated by the Obama administration, which Biden didn’t help with, that Obama has made much of an impact in this field.

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