US President Joe Biden unveiled a new initiative on Wednesday that will train young people in the skills needed to take up climate-focused jobs, in an effort to combat climate change, restore lands, improve communities' resilience to natural disasters and boost the use of clean energy.
Mr Biden used his executive authority to create the American Climate Corps, a paid training programme that the White House said would create pathways to good-paying jobs in clean energy and climate resilience in the public and private sectors.
“Since taking office, President Biden has delivered on the most ambitious climate, clean energy, conservation and environmental justice agenda in history,” the White House said in a fact sheet.
“Today, through his Investing in America agenda, President Biden is delivering on that commitment by taking executive action to launch the American Climate Corps.”
The announcement comes as Mr Biden, who is running for re-election in the 2024, seeks to win over young voters who are more likely than their older counterparts to cite the climate as a top concern.
It also comes as the US has been experiencing more frequent extreme weather events in recent years, including hurricanes, wildfires, droughts and floods, that have led to dozens of deaths and billions in damages to homes and critical infrastructure.
The new programme is similar to the Green New Deal, a bill proposed by progressive members of Congress to wean the US off of fossil fuel and on to more sustainable forms of energy.
The initiative also resembles the Civilian Climate Corps, a proposal that was included in an early version of the Inflation Reduction Act, Mr Biden’s signature climate law. But the plan was ultimately removed from the final version amid opposition from Republicans.
“This a major victory for our movement, our generation, and our fight for a Green New Deal,” the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led advocacy group that aims to stop climate change and create more green jobs, said on X, formerly Twitter.
“This didn’t happen overnight.
“We began the fight for a Climate Corps in 2020 and spent the last 3 years organising our communities, protesting, building coalitions and pushing our leaders to stand with our generation.”
The White House said a new website has been launched where those who wish to join can sign up and find out more about the training programme.
The initiate is modelled after the Civilian Conservation Corps, enacted in 1933 by then-president Franklin D Roosevelt as part of the New Deal, a series of federal economic programmes, public work projects, financial reforms and regulations aimed at lifting the US out of the Great Depression.