(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden said he will continue to pursue remedies to the threats caused by climate change following the release of the Fifth National Climate Assessment on Tuesday — but he acknowledged that it’s still not enough and that some Republicans are getting in the way of more progress.
“This assessment shows us in clear scientific terms, that climate change is impacting all regions, all sectors of the United States, not just some, all,” Biden said in his remarks Tuesday at the White House.
Biden said he’s seen the destruction firsthand as president when he’s visited states like Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Florida after hurricanes and floods and talked with firefighters in Idaho, New Mexico, California and Colorado.
“The impacts we’re seeing are only going to get worse, more frequent, more ferocious, and more costly. Last year alone, natural disasters in America cost $178 billion — $178 billion — in damages. They hit everyone no matter what their circumstances, but the hit the most vulnerable the hardest,” he said.
But, he added, “none of this is inevitable.”
Biden also made a dig at past inaction on climate change, calling out Republicans and former President Donald Trump, who withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accords.
“We’ve come to the point where it’s foolish for anyone to deny the impacts of climate change anymore. But it’s simply a simple fact that there are a number of my colleagues and other side of the aisle, MAGA Republican leaders who still deny climate change, still deny that it’s a problem. My predecessor, much of the MAGA Republican Party, in fact, are still — feel very strongly about that,” he said.
“Anyone who willfully denies the impacts of climate change is condemning the American people to a very dangerous future,” he said.
White House National Climate Adviser Ali Zaidi also told ABC News Live that some Republicans in Congress want to “bury their heads in the sand.”
In response to the speech, some Republicans argued Biden has misplaced priorities.
“Biden believes climate change is the ‘ultimate threat to humanity.’ He should take the threats posed to Americans by Iran-backed terrorists and Chinese aggression as seriously,” Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, tweeted.
Biden said climate change was a recurring theme in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS Act. The White House also announced more than $6 billion in what it said was an effort to “strengthen climate resilience” on Tuesday, a large amount of which comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, according to a White House fact sheet.
The funding includes $3.9 billion to “strengthen and modernize” the electric grid, $2 billion in EPA grants for community clean energy and environmental justice projects, $300 million from FEMA for communities impacted by catastrophic flooding, and $100 million in grants to support drought resilience in Western states.
“We’re just getting started. … All told, my investing in America Agenda and those bold climate laws are the most ambitious in American history,” he said.
“Today’s release — the Fifth National Climate Assessment — is a critical part of that effort. It lays out the threats and dangers, but most experts would acknowledge it also shows solutions are within reach,” he added.
Biden has frequently discussed the importance of climate change to his administration, but he has also faced criticism from climate activists for decisions like the approval of a controversial oil drilling project in Alaska and the fact that he has not declared a national emergency on climate change.
The report issued Tuesday, the Fifth National Climate Assessment, warns that all parts of the U.S. are already experiencing serious impacts of climate change, including more severe extreme weather events like heat waves and extreme rainfall. It says climate change is making it harder to “maintain safe homes and healthy families” in the U.S. and the country needs to do much more to adapt.
The report issues a stark warning that extreme events and harmful impacts of climate change that Americans are already experiencing, such as heat waves, wildfires, and extreme rainfall, will worsen as temperatures continue to rise. But it also found that while climate action is still incremental, there are areas for economic opportunity in the United States, including clean energy.
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