EIA Calls Upon the Biden Administration to Take Bold Action to Prioritize Environmental and Social Justice
The Biden-Harris administration takes the helm at a time when the world faces multiple interrelated ecological and social justice crises. Bold, transformative approaches are urgently needed to change systems too long operating at the expense of environmental, social and human rights priorities. The Environmental Investigation Agency calls for the new administration to implement measures that prioritize biodiversity protection and rapid emissions mitigation while centering environmental justice and good governance.
President Biden has already shown that he is willing to take decisive measures on the environment through initial actions such as: signing an Executive Order rejoining the United States to the Paris Climate Accord; initiating the ratification process of the Kigali Amendment; directing the Secretary of Treasury to create a plan to protect the Amazon rainforest and other critical ecosystems; revoking the presidential permit to construct the Keystone XL oil pipeline; and appointing the most diverse cabinet in U.S. history. 2021 can be the year to turn the most ambitious election climate platform into the most impactful and game-changing action for climate, people, and the planet ever taken by an American president.
For over 30 years, EIA’s investigations into environmental crimes have taken us across Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America, giving us first-hand experience in witnessing how frontline communities bear the burden of weak environmental protections and illicit trade. We understand how sound policies contribute powerfully and significantly to solutions that protect the environment, and likewise how lack of enforcement of these policies intensifies the negative outcomes that endanger communities, wildlife, forests, and the atmosphere.
We know that this work cannot be achieved in silos; assertive policy actions that confront the problems facing the environment when it comes to climate, forests, and wildlife are needed, urgently and immediately. Today, EIA calls for the Biden administration to prioritize the following policy actions:
- Rapidly complete Kigali Amendment ratification and restore U.S. climate leadership at the Montreal Protocol, including through enhanced funding to the Multilateral Fund, bilateral engagement with key countries especially China and India, and supporting institutional reforms to ensure stronger enforcement and protections against illegal trade.
- Comprehensive implementation of recently passed HFC legislation through EPA rulemakings to restrict HFC uses (consistent with California’s recently finalized regulations) and improve the lifecycle management, disposal, and reuse of refrigerants.
- Under the newly established National Climate Task Force, encourage and coordinate with U.S. Climate Alliance states to support and sustain sub-national leadership, and include resources for clean cooling programs in states to further accelerate HFC emissions reduction within future economic stimulus plans.
- Prioritize much stronger enforcement of the U.S. Lacey Act and allocate the resources and tools needed to end the U.S. role in facilitating illegal logging and illicit trade in wood products. Thus, addressing the disastrous impacts such trade has on the world’s remaining forests, local and indigenous communities, anti-corruption efforts, and economies around the globe, as well as the negative impacts on U.S. industry and workers undermined by artificially low prices of the illegal product.
- Implement legislation and policies designed to tackle deforestation by prohibiting commodities produced on illegally deforested land from entering the U.S. market, and requiring companies to carry out and report on supply chain due diligence, including full supply chain traceability, to ensure their sourcing does not drive environmental crime, corruption, or human rights abuses.
- Pursue and enforce environmentally-friendly trade practices that place the well-being of ecosystems, the climate and communities at the core of what sustainable trade means for the world.
- Permanently protect Bristol Bay from the threats posed by mining through federal legislation, a Clean Water Act Section 404(a) veto, retiring minerals leases, or a combination of these actions.
- Reaffirm the U.S. National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking and support closure of domestic markets for products derived from elephants, rhinos, tigers, pangolins and other endangered species.
- End legal commercial wildlife trade and commercial wildlife farming where it cannot be guaranteed it doesn’t pose a risk to human health or biodiversity, excluding for safe and sustainable subsistence purposes.
- Support a new legally binding global agreement on plastic pollution, one that takes a comprehensive approach to addressing the full lifecycle of plastics.
Building back better to address these pressing threats will require America to take bold action athome, and also to engage in robust dialogue and collaboration with other nations to establish cohesive strategic approaches that expand upon and learn from each other. The new administration needs to implement strong policies that address the fundamental needs to create a vibrant economy in which people and the planet can thrive. Time is running out to combat our climate and extinction crises. The U.S. has the chance to step up and lead the way toward a sustainable future, but that cannot happen without swift action. We must prioritize transformative change at the nexus of trade and policy now.
Contact us at [email protected] to learn more about what policy actions can be taken to effectively confront the interlocking issues that America and the world face in addressing global environmental, climate, trade, and human rights challenges.