America in transition: How Biden will confront climate change

ABC News’ Devin Dwyer reports on how the Trump administration’s policies impacted the climate, and how the Biden administration could take on combating climate change.
8:00 | 12/23/20

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Transcript for America in transition: How Biden will confront climate change
Talking now about climate change it's been referred to as the greatest challenge facing our planet even bigger than the pandemic and five weeks from today. How we confronted is set to undergo a dramatic shift. President elect Joseph Biden says that he'll make the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions a top national priority but. What's in his plan and will it help or hurt jobs the bigger question is it's still possible to bend the climate curve at this point. Devin Dwyer has another installment of our series America in transition. After forty years of Donald Trump's hands off approach to climate. She piper says the harms to his family are only getting worse over nineteen years it's a big problem for the country but it economic situation. Run but. They're climate really is right up there beyond around and you get. We first met piper when he came to congress in 2019 to demand action on climate change. If I wait until I'm. At a high school lake. That baffling it's gonna be too late he's one of nearly two dozen young climate act. Com and you can increased wildfire seasons but her health. I'm at risk in jeopardy. Point one it was the worst fire season the west has ever seen within five million acres burned. What in the Atlantic it was a record breaking thirty named storms. Mother nature taking an increasingly destructive told thinks imports scientists say to a rising global temperatures. This year is one of the hottest years on record. Michael managed climatologist and author of the new book the new climate war. Or years of damage tremendous damage that's been done your domestically in United States when it comes to climate action but it's not too late now. To take the actions necessary to keep warming below truly catastrophic left. US carbon emissions which contribute to global warming have been on the decline last year reaching the lowest levels since 1992. This year they'll dip even lower thanks to reduced economic activity during the pandemic. Our regulations are meaningful. Received reductions in greenhouse gases. And or should we go further we're going to the extent that the law allows us to go at the agency. Outgoing EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler says the country's polluting less even as he rolled back dozens of environmental regulations including fuel efficiency standards for cars and truck. The minister wheelers right and 120 US greenhouse gas emissions will be substantially lower than they weren't 2019. But that's not because progress that the drug administration has made in reducing emissions that's because we have more just economic recession and a generation and that's a that's not exactly a a cause for celebration. Are you doing knowledge that climate change is a problem it's just a matter of priority. We are certainly do a lot here in the United States Britain are a lot of the problem in the greenhouse gases is as a worldwide which. We are problems with China in particular and emissions come from China. In other countries China is the world's biggest polluter but the US is number two. And experts see the rate of decline in US carbon emissions has slowed dramatically. And remains well below what's needed to stave off catastrophic climate impacts. Let's be clear we need to bring carbon emissions down to net zero within a couple decades and we need to bring them halfway there within the next act that requires massive action on our part and on the part of every other country. In the world president trump rolled back major carbon controls including rules on power plant emissions and methane leaks from oil and gas wells. The five biggest rule changes combined could add one point eight billion metric tons of greenhouse gases by 2035. If they're not reversed. That's more than the combined emissions of Germany Britain and Canada in one year. Those roll backs compliant. I have already animal continued to have in place significantly and ask gas atmosphere. Further increasing global temperatures and further ankle all's. I've always known as an issue and it's a problem. You're taking a look at for example some of the modeling so think there's some real serious concerns on the modeling. On what the impact should be and when they might occur. President elect Joseph Biden insist the science is clear. The damage from climate change is already here. Unless we take urgent action. Will soon be more catastrophic. Vowing to rejoin the Paris climate in court on day one in naming a team of top climate advocates. Including former secretary of state John Kerry is special climate envoy former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy as domestic climate Sar. And North Carolina environmental regulator Michael Reagan to leave the EPA. To get there. This team will ensure that there are about justice and human impacts. Our top of mind as the tackle is tough issues. Biden plans to push major new investment in renewable energy ask congress to set targets to reach a net zero emissions by 2050. And restore tighter fuel efficiency standards for new cars and trucks. Good news is since the election. I'm hearing from lots of EPA and they're eager to get on and they're eager to right the wrongs and think they can do it. Probably much faster than I would originally I. Carol Browner led the EPA for all eight years of the Clinton administration there. One of the that they are untold but good stories of the last four years has been the action in state between more than two dozen states now that have established some sort of clean energy standard and said you know what you're seeing is elected officials. Being responsive to their citizens. California has led the way requiring all vehicles sold in the state to get more than 51 miles per gallon by 20/20 six. It defies president trump who set a national standard of just forty miles per gallon. In every way we think it's going to be terrific and we have a lot of support from the car industry. The big US auto makers are preparing for a big change and they know that we're willing at this lower carbon future. It was certainly mean greater availability of electric cars and I think. And he's seen as me you know somebody who's very crack addict. About these are your goals around the environment climate change and the need to protect American jobs. And you know grow the economy here. You ambition now challenge. Absolutely and it's been proven so many times editor we had been successful in making investments in technologies to reduce. I dangerous pollution it is not a job killer it is a job maker. Biden says his plan would create ten million new jobs in clean energy. The pandemic has hit the industry hard half a million jobs eliminated this year's so far. Trump CP chief says he believes Biden's plan will kill jobs in oil gas and call. If we through government actions to address climate change. Horse those jobs to close those jobs customer per they're gonna happen. There's gonna happen in China or India or other countries instead of here into one open question is how aggressive lied movie extremely well do what do we know that is build our plan every debate brewing among Democrats as young activists like Ozzie piper. Promise to keep the pressure on. Now we haven't seen any real. Armed strong action. Done. And another incremental steps we have taken and while those incremental steps are goaded. It's still just not enough. It eventually. We need. For ABC news live I'm Devin Dwyer in Washington. And our thanks to DeVon.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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