Climate watchers celebrate Biden victory over Trump in US election

Climate advocates from around the world welcomed Joe Biden’s victory, heralding a US return to international cooperation on the climate crisis

Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden on the campaign trail in Nevada in January 2020 (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)


The international climate community was jubilant on Saturday, as the US presidential election was called for Joe Biden.

Four nail-biting days after polling day, Biden secured the swing state of Pennsylvania. On top of wins in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan, the state’s 20 electoral college votes took him over the line.

Biden made tackling climate change a key plank of his campaign. He pledged to re-join the Paris Agreement, aim for net zero emissions by 2050 and invest in renewable energy.

The Democrats are expected to retain control of the House of Representatives but underperformed in the Senate, which will make it harder for Biden to pass climate legislation.

He replaces Donald Trump, who pulled the US out of the Paris Agreement, described climate change as a “hoax” and slowed down the transition to clean energy.

Frank Bainimarama, Fiji Prime Minister 

Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, North America director

Joe Biden’s win is an opportunity for all of us that are fighting for another day, As we celebrate the hard won moment we are cautiously optimistic about the road ahead and will push for the greatest possible action on climate for our communities now and in the future.

Ana Toni, executive director of Instituto Clima e Sociedade

Bolsonaro and Biden, at least the Biden side, will be quite pragmatic in their relationship. Biden knows Brazil very well. He has been here several times and he knows a lot of the players. The relationship between Biden and Bolsonaro will be more tense because of some key issues – human rights, environment, climate change. But there is a lot of economic interest for both sides so they will try to have a very pragmatic alignment. Brazil will be isolated because Bolsonaro tries to be as radical as Trump.  Brazil could be named and shamed over deforestation, biodiversity and the Amazon.

Barbara Kvac, expert at Slovenia’s Focus Association for Sustainable Development

As Slovenia is to hold the EU Presidency in the second half of 2021, when COP26 is to be held, the cooperation with Biden’s administration on climate change will be inevitable. However, the siding of our prime minister with Donald Trump and declaring his victory while the votes were not yet counted might mean that extra work will need to be invested into building the relationship and trust between the countries first.

Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation

As the climate community around the world celebrates the results of the US election, the scales tip even further toward a net-zero emissions future. We welcome the US’s return to the table of global climate leaders, joining the EU, China, Japan, and others with considerable ambition and a promise to work with other countries on their transitions. The Biden-Harris administration has an historic opportunity to enact one of the world’s largest green stimulus efforts, to accelerate the US economy toward sustained emissions reductions while rebuilding and creating a fairer society. Building Back Better is not just a domestic effort: US climate leadership can and should support a green and just transition in developing countries around the world.

Alok Sharma, Cop26 president designate 

Nick Mabey, CEO environmental think tank E3G 

Climate change comes of age in UK geopolitically as Boris Johnson puts it top of his list for cooperation with President Biden. Even without [the] Senate, the US [is] critical to shifting global climate action through IMF, World Bank & building climate alliances with major economies.

Featuring Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of UN Climate Change 

Fred Krupp, President of Environmental Defense Fund

For Americans who care about clean air, clean water and healthy communities, Joe Biden’s policies can open a new window of opportunity for real progress. The United States can now focus on the well-being of the American people — especially those most impacted by pollution and climate change.

Stopping the spread of Covid-19 and getting help to struggling workers and businesses must be the new administration’s first priority. But as we turn to the work of rebuilding better — not simply restoring what we had before — it is time to get to work building clean cars, trucks and buses and clean energy, for an America with less pollution, more jobs and equity for our hardest-hit communities.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris understand the need for a rapid energy transition. Americans overwhelmingly support clean energy and climate action as well.

Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency 

Looking forward to supporting President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris to help the United States — a founding member of the IEA — meet its energy & climate goals and speed-up global clean energy transitions.

Sunrise Movement 

Niklas Höhne, founder of the NewClimate Institute

Taken together, the US and China going to net zero emissions would reduce our estimate of end-of-century warming to 2.3-2.4C, taking the world 25-40% of the way towards limiting warming to the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C  limit. What can other countries now do other than follow this overwhelming trend to net zero greenhouse gas emissions?

Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics

This could be an historic tipping point: with Biden’s election China, the USA , EU, Japan South Korea – two thirds of the world economy and over 50% of global GHG emissions – would have net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century commitments.

These commitments are very close, if not within, 1.5C-consistent pathways for this set of countries and for the first time ever puts the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C limit within striking distance.

The US has now formally left the Paris Agreement, but this will be a short hiatus. President-elect Joe Biden has a lot of catching up to do: first to reverse the Trump Administration’s anti-climate moves, then begin to move the country in the right direction, but he will be surfing a new wave of global ambition.

Alexandria Villaseñor, US climate justice activist 

Sue Reid, principal advisor on finance at Mission 2020

Biden’s victory positions the US to regain its competitive position in the global marketplace as nations and businesses race to transition to net zero emissions economies. Despite the Trump administration’s efforts to prop up outdated and polluting fossil fuels over the past four years, clean energy has proven its resilience and ability to win in the market. Now, as Trump-era headwinds are reversed, clean energy is expected to scale much more rapidly and deliver on its unparalleled promise for job creation, pollution reduction and economic opportunity. Investors are ready to ride this tidal wave.

Nigel Topping, UK high-level climate action champion 

Paul Watkinson, French climate diplomat 

Looking forward to the US rejoining the Paris Agreement is a couple of months.

Jagoda Munić, director of Friends of the Earth Europe 

Biden’s narrow victory offers a glimmer of hope for people and the planet.

European leaders must go all out now to help President-elect Biden make transformational action on the climate and planetary crisis a priority. This may be the last administration that can prevent catastrophic climate breakdown – the EU and US must deliver the fair share of climate action people and the planet need.

We applaud our colleagues and movements in the USA, who have mobilised with success and will continue to use massive grassroots power to push Biden to act boldly to protect peace, people and the planet, and to hold him accountable.

Tasneem Essop, executive director of Climate Action Network International 

We can all breath a bit easier today. Thank you to all in the US who worked and fought so hard to get us here. A triumph of democracy over fascism. Congratulations Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Bill McKibben, climate activist and founder

Leah Stokes, assistant professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara

It’s clear that Biden won in part because of climate voters. He got significant donations from the climate community and young people turned out in unprecedented numbers to vote for him. He has a strong mandate to govern on this issue, and given how much the campaign focused on climate, I know he will prioritize it.

Lord Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment

Biden’s victory should set America back on course to play a leading role in global efforts to fight climate change. And the rest of the world is moving, with strong commitments over the last year in Europe, China, Japan, and many countries across the world to go to net zero emissions by mid-century.

However, even with America’s re-entry into the Paris Agreement and President Biden’s $1.7 trillion climate plan, we are unlikely to see global action with the urgency and scale we need over the next decade to move fast enough towards net zero to give us a good chance of limiting warming to well below 2C, unless more countries raise their climate ambitions. The next four years are crucial, and with a US President in office who once again recognises global warming as an existential threat to humanity we have a chance, if we work together, to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. There is much work to do but President Biden’s leadership will be of profound importance.

Todd Stern, former special envoy for climate change at the State Department under Barack Obama

Kat Kramer, Christian Aid’s senior climate lead

This is a significant victory for the climate which should have a material impact on efforts to accelerate the transition to a zero carbon world….. It’s now essential that Biden ensures the US makes up for lost time and moves quickly to implement green recovery policies which will accelerate the shift to a cleaner and safer world for all.

Peter Erickson, climate policy programme director at Stockholm Environment Institute US Centre

A Biden administration means the US can get back to work on climate. The way forward won’t be easy, but we can expect the US to re-engage internationally, use executive action to slow or reverse damaging environmental rollbacks, build back up leadership at federal agencies, and potentially pursue job creation in clean industries.

Incoming Vice President Kamala Harris could also make good on her proposal to seek an international agreement to manage the decline of fossil fuel production.

Gilles Dufrasne, policy officer at Carbon Market Watch

This is good news for the climate, and will certainly boost carbon pricing and carbon markets. President-elect Biden should bring his country swiftly back to the Paris Agreement, where the US can also play an important role in ensuring the integrity of future global carbon markets. Trump’s departure from the White House also means that there will be less resistance to State-level carbon pricing systems, even if Biden has not formally supported a federal-level carbon pricing policy. Carbon pricing schemes continue to expand around the world and the election result makes it even more important to ensure their integrity, transparency, and coherence.

Kevin Rudd, former Australian Prime Minister and President of the Asia Society Policy Institute

Biden’s victory is a massive shot in the arm for the international fight against climate change. Amongst many other things, his commitment to rejoin the Paris Agreement on day one and quickly ramp up US ambition in the fight against climate change will help make the world safer.

Restoring a cooperative relationship on climate change must also be at the centre of the President-elect’s China strategy, even if the overall relationship is likely to remain difficult. Together, the world’s two largest emitters can help drive down global temperature forecasts even further, including by laying the groundwork for each other to be able to do more individually.

Biden’s election also helps put every country on notice that they too must ramp up their Paris targets by the time we get to COP26 in Glasgow next year. Countries like Australia will no longer be able to get a leave pass for doing nothing.

Justin Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister

On behalf of the Government of Canada, I congratulate Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on their election as the next President and Vice President of the United States of America.

Canada and the United States enjoy an extraordinary relationship – one that is unique on the world stage. Our shared geography, common interests, deep personal connections, and strong economic ties make us close friends, partners, and allies. We will further build on this foundation as we continue to keep our people safe and healthy from the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic, and work to advance peace and inclusion, economic prosperity, and climate action around the world.

I look forward to working with President-elect Biden, Vice President-elect Harris, their administration, and the United States Congress as we tackle the world’s greatest challenges together.

Stefan Löfven, Swedish Prime Minister

Andrew Steer, President of the World Resources Institute

In his first 100 days, Biden can set a new course by expediting the energy transition and by restoring rules and regulations that protect public health and the environment. Biden should work with Congress to take action through economic recovery packages and the budget process that will enhance climate resilience, reduce emissions, and expand clean energy.

By re-entering the Paris Agreement on Day One, President-elect Biden can boost confidence in the international cooperation and begin to restore U.S. standing the world. He should put forward a national climate plan with ambitious emissions targets that will accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon economy…

Biden made climate change a pillar of his campaign and his victory affirms that climate action can be a winning issue. With climate-related disasters on the rise and the benefits of action becoming clearer, a growing and diverse movement of Americans want national leadership. They want clean energy jobs that benefit everyone. They want policy making guided by science and evidence. They want a world that is healthier, more equitable, and more resilient. This is a new day for the climate, the environment and the American people. The opportunity for a better tomorrow is possible. There’s not a minute to lose.

Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand

As Vice President, Joe Biden was a close friend of New Zealand and visited here in 2016, the most senior US politician to do so since Bill Clinton attended APEC in 1999.

New Zealand will continue to work side-by-side with the United States on the issues that matter to both of us, including the prosperity, security and sustainability in the Indo-Pacific and Pacific Island regions.

The campaign by the President-elect has also shown the shared interests we have in addressing global challenges like Covid-19 and climate change.

Alexander van der Bellen, President of Austria

Charles Michel, President of European Council

Ibrahim Mohammed Solih, President of the Maldives

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland

Katerina Sakellaropoulou, President of Greece

Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland

Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia

We also look forward to working with President-elect Biden and his administration to…develop new technologies to reduce global emissions as we practically confront the challenge of climate change.

Sebastian Pinera, President of Chile

Chile and the USA share many values, such as freedom and the defence of human rights, and challenges like the commitment for peace and the protection of the environment.

Ivan Duque, President of Colombia

We will work together to strengthen the common agenda in trade, environment, security and the fight against transnational crime.

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