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November 16, 2020

How a Biden administration would try to take on climate change


Directions: Read the summary, watch NewsHour’s video by Christopher Booker and Sam Weber  and answer the discussion questions. A transcript of the video is available here

Summary: President-elect Joe Biden has put the climate crisis at the top of his incoming administration’s agenda with ambitious goals ranging from rejoining the Paris Agreement to a $2 trillion plan to transition to clean energy. To pass these laws, he will have to deal with a possibly GOP-controlled Senate and multilateral cooperation with America’s allies.

  • During his campaign, Biden proposed spending $2 trillion to spur the transition to clean energy, aiming to remove greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector by 2035 and the entire economy by 2050. Greenhouse gases are caused primarily by burning fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas and are responsible for increased global temperatures.
  • The Paris Agreement is an international commitment to limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius, which would help stave off some of the worst effects of climate change, if all parties met its goals. The agreement itself is not binding; in other words, it’s up to countries to follow in accordance with the agreement.
  • While a Biden administration could take action on its own, it would need an agreement with the Senate, which may be opposed to large spending on green initiatives if it remains controlled by the opposition Republican party.


Warm up questions: 

  1. What is climate change and why is it important?
  2. Who is affected by climate change and how?
  3. Why does Biden want to rejoin the Paris Agreement?
  4. When and where will the federal government take action to address climate change?
  5. How can the Biden administration take action against climate change even without an agreement with the Senate on new laws?

Focus questions:

  1. Do you think it should be easier for a president’s administration to take action on climate change without the cooperation of the Senate? Why or why not?
  2. What do you think are some of the challenges to ensuring countries around the globe are working together to address climate change?

Media literacy: Who is the expert we hear from in this story, and what is his background?Why do you think the journalist chose this expert to interview?

 Additional resources: 

  • Would you like to know more about the Paris Agreement and the reasoning behind the target of less than 2 degrees Celsius of warming? Check out this short lesson for more on the original Paris Agreement negotiations.
  • Check out AFT’s Share My Lesson “Climate Change” series below. You can choose a wide-range of lessons on climate change and ways to support young people as they continue to lead the conversation around the climate crisis.


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