On Wednesday, the 27th of January, President Biden’s administration demonstrated that it is taking the threat posed by climate change seriously. In his executive order on climate change, President Biden set out to fulfill his campaign promise of ensuring that the United States addresses this grave threat. Furthermore he wants to see the US getting back to take a leading role in tackling the climate emergency, for which carbon emissions from fossil fuels bear much of the blame. In a first step, President Biden effectively placed a moratorium on new oil and natural gas leases in offshore waters. The executive order furthermore ordered a comprehensive review and reconsideration of Federal oil and gas leasing practices and to end, to the extent possible by law, direct fossil fuel subsidies by the Federal Government, which is a critical step, in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement, to which the United States acceded to again following Biden’s inauguration.

OceanCare comments the action taken by the Biden-Harris administration as “an important first step towards curbing greenhouse gas emissions. However, as the executive order imposes a suspension – yet not a ban- the granting of any new leases for oil and gas, we will unfortunately have to endure the continuation of exploration and exploitation activities given existing permits granted by the previous administration. Indeed, in anticipation of the change in government, the fossil fuel industry secured permits necessary to continue its offshore activities. It is therefore regrettable that the new administration has not placed a prohibition on exploration and exploitation of existing leases”.

Still, the steps taken by the Biden administration can be seen as a good first stride in the right direction.