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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden's speech to Congress Wednesday night highlighted two big themes of his energy and climate pitch and produced a head-scratching moment.

The big picture: That would be jobs and competing with China, which is what Biden focused on.

  • "For me, when I think climate change, I think jobs," Biden said. He talked up construction jobs, building efficient homes and buildings, union electricians installing EV charging stations and more.
  • And then he said: "There is simply no reason why the blades for wind turbines can’t be built in Pittsburgh instead of Beijing. No reason."

Quick take, part 1: That Pittsburgh line inverts what President Trump said when announcing he'd yank the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement.

  • "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris," Trump said in 2017.

Quick take, part 2. "For too long we’ve failed to use the most important word when it comes to meeting the climate crisis: Jobs. Jobs. Jobs," Biden said.

  • That's...an interesting take. Because for many years Democrats and environmentalists have made job creation in low-carbon industries a pillar of their case for more aggressive climate policies.

Go deeper

Updated Apr 29, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden to the nation: "America is on the move again"

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In his first joint address to Congress on Wednesday, President Biden told America that "one day shy" of his 100th day in office, his administration is turning the nation's "peril into possibility" and "setback into strength."

Why it matters: Wednesday's speech was one of the president's most significant opportunities so far to sway members of Congress in favor of his administration's agenda.

Updated Apr 27, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on climate action in the private sector

On Tuesday, April 27, Axios business editor Dan Primack and markets reporter Courtenay Brown unpacked how businesses are now making sustainability integral to their strategy and minimizing their own carbon footprint, featuring Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert and Ceres CEO & president Mindy Lubber. Ryan Gellert unpacked how businesses play a critical role in addressing climate change, highlighting decisions in supply chain management and utilizing recyclable materials.

  • On centering long-lasting and reusable materials for consumer products in business strategy: "Collectively we're trying to have a lower footprint in the [materials] that we use...We continue to push [this] deeper into the center of the business, partnering with our customers to incentivize them to keep their product and use as long as possible because, ultimately, the most responsible and the most sustainable jacket or pants are ones that already exist."
  • On the need for government and private sector collaboration to address climate issues: "I think that business is now begrudgingly stepping into a space that I think has been under-supported by government...Given the existential nature of the climate and ecological crisis, I think that we're going to need government."

Mindy Lubber discussed the need for CEOs and boards of directors to prioritize sustainability initiatives across their companies and consistently measure themselves against industry benchmarks.

  • On corporations responding to the threat of climate change: "There's no question that there's been a change within the corporate and the financial community. Part of that change has come from the fact that the data is just clear. I mean, let's just think if you have 20 events in the year that cost a billion dollars from climactic changes, that's telling us something."
  • On the need for businesses to support their supply chains with sustainability efforts: "They have to help their suppliers meet those [climate] goals as well. That's training. That's resources...You've got to be consistent on policy at a board level, and you've got to help your supply chain."

Axios Vice President of Communications Yolanda Brignoni hosted a View from the Top Segment with Salesforce Head of Sustainability Patrick Flynn, who discussed climate change as an equity issue and the need for companies to be transparent about their impact on the environment.

  • "Within ESG—environmental, social and governance—the most important letter is actually 'C' for the climate. Climate [initiatives] are a way to create jobs, create quality, and support human health while also supporting our environment...For companies, their climate data needs to reach the same level of quality as their financial data."

Thank you Salesforce for sponsoring this event.

Biden: Trickle-down economics "has never worked"

Joe Biden addresses a joint session of congress. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

During his joint address to Congress on Wednesday, President Biden spoke of the need to tax the ultra-wealthy to fix economic inequality in the U.S.

Why it matters: Biden wants to use tax hikes on the rich to pay for his American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan. This philosophy has been a sticking point for many Republicans.