Climate change an existential threat, Biden says as he vows action

US president unveils $2.3bn to help build American infrastructure to withstand extreme weather events

US President Joe Biden called climate change a 'clear and present danger'. Reuters
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US President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced a set of measures to battle the climate change "emergency" as record-breaking heatwaves hit the US, UK and Europe.

"Climate change is literally an existential threat to our nation and to the world," Mr Biden said at a former coal plant in Massachusetts.

In the US, more than 100 million people are under an excessive heat alerts. And devastating wildfires and extreme heat are suffocating Europe.

"Climate change … is literally, not figuratively, a clear and present danger," Mr Biden said.

The president, whose climate initiatives have stalled in Congress, announced a $2.3 billion investment that would help to build American infrastructure to withstand extreme weather events.

While Mr Biden stopped sort of declaring a climate emergency, he indicated that his administration would press forward with more executive actions.

"Congress is not acting as it should … This is an emergency and I will look at it that way," he said.

Declaring a climate emergency would grant him additional powers, such as stopping new federal oil drilling.

Mr Biden's administration said it had also identified 283,289 hectares for possible offshore wind opportunities in the Gulf of Mexico.

The projects could power up to 3 million homes, the White House said.

Mr Biden began his term in office last year pledging to fulfil campaign promises to tackle the global climate crisis.

While he successfully brought the US back into the Paris Climate Agreement, Congress and the Supreme Court have dealt significant blows to his agenda.

Mr Biden's Build Back Better legislation, which would have included $550bn for climate initiatives, is highly unlikely to receive the votes necessary to become law after stiff opposition from Republicans and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin.

In May, the administration had a further setback after the Supreme Court limited the federal government's ability to reduce carbon emissions from power plants.

The ruling stated that the Environmental Protection Agency could not issue sweeping greenhouse gas regulations without congressional approval.

The US faced 20 extreme weather events last year, costing $145bn in damages, Mr Biden said.

Updated: July 20, 2022, 9:34 PM