Andrew Harnik / Pool via REUTERS

What a Biden presidency means for Covid-19, climate change and technology

By Adam Vaughan

US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and President-elect Joe Biden

Andrew Harnik / Pool via REUTERS

US President-elect Joe Biden said he would “listen to science” and pledged to take new positions on fighting Covid-19, climate change and other key issues.

Along with Kamala Harris, the first elected Black, Indian-American, and female U.S. Vice President, the couple’s transition team pledged to double the number of drive-through coronavirus testing sites, fix the shortage of personal protective equipment, and contact the U.S. centers for Collaborate Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to choose social distancing up or down.

The future government will also set up a new Covid-19 task force, allocate $ 25 billion to vaccine development, and cancel plans for the United States to leave the World Health Organization.

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This approach contrasts with that of the Trump administration, which sent mixed messages about wearing masks and undermined key scientific agencies fighting to contain the spread of the virus. However, since Biden won’t be inaugurated until January 20th next year, he’s likely to inherit a far worse crisis than it is today.

As the US election dominated attention, the country’s cases and deaths rose to their highest ever level. Between November 4 and 6, more than 100,000 daily cases were reported for three consecutive days – the first time over the threshold – and the US was cumulatively approaching the 10 million case milestone. Daily deaths have not yet reached the level they reached in April, but they have increased.

The new government’s efforts on Covid-19 will overlap with one of its other top priorities, combating racism, by establishing a task force on ethnic differences related to the disease. So far, black Americans have caused 108.4 deaths per 100,000 people, almost twice as many as white Americans.

Biden’s presidency will also mark a break with Trump’s approach to climate change. The president-elect has said that when he takes office on November 4th, he will immediately reverse Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and call on other countries to increase their ambitions.

His transition team said they would put the US on an “irreversible path to economically net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest”. According to estimates by analysts at Climate Action Tracker, the move would reduce global warming by 0.1 ° C. The group said that when combined with net zero targets from China, Japan, South Korea and other countries, a “tipping point” has been reached to bring the 1.5 ° C target of the Paris Agreement within reach.

While the Democratic Party’s lack of control over the Senate may limit the new administration’s boldness when it comes to carbon emissions, there is a lot it could deliver. In debates, Biden said he would “move out of the oil industry” and promised to end new drilling leases on public land and water, which would have a major impact on the coast.

Unlike his rival in the running for Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, he does not support separation from tech titans. However, a case brought by the US government last month accusing Google of being a “monopoly gatekeeper” could go on under Biden. Meanwhile, on January 20, Trump will lose the privileges that world leaders enjoy on Twitter, which means he could be banned from future inflammatory tweets.

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