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Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden urged immediate actions on climate change on Wednesday, saying "[w]e can't wait any longer to deal with climate crisis" during an event promoting his Build Back Better agenda.

Driving the news: The U.S. is currently facing an extreme heat wave and heavy wildfires in the West, a deadly drought and the the earliest fifth-named Atlantic tropical storm on record currently going through the Southeast.

  • The calamities playing out across the country may have repercussions in Washington as lawmakers debate potentially huge investments for the country's aging infrastructure, per Axios' Andrew Freedman.
  • White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy told Punchbowl News last Wednesday that the current climate-related events ravaging the U.S. "are things that remind us that time is running out here."

What he's saying: "Last year ... more than 10 million acres burned in the West, 10 million acres, not counting the lives lost and homes lost," Biden said. "[That is] more land that exists in my home state of Delaware and my neighbor state of Maryland combined. It's as if a fire swept through and took out every single thing in the state of Delaware and Maryland."

  • "Extreme weather isn't just in the West. In Illinois, farmers downstate are dealing with more frequent droughts. Two weeks ago, just south of here, you just had a newly unprecedented tornado," the president added.
  • "We can't wait any longer to deal with climate crisis, we see with our own eyes, and it's time to act."

Go deeper

Updated Sep 23, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on investing in advanced climate tech

On Thursday, September 23rd, Axios business editor Dan Primack and Axios Today host Niala Boodhoo explored how alternative energy investments toward climate solutions function in the private and public sector today, featuring Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Galvanize Climate Solutions co-founder Tom Steyer.

Sen. Ron Wyden explained his support for overhauling the existing tax code to incentivize companies to reduce their emissions, his belief that all Americans should pay their fair share of taxes, and Congressional efforts to increase electric vehicle usage.

  • On his support for modifying the tax code: “One of the little secrets about the tax code is that many billionaires pay little or no income taxes. The way they do that is they don’t take a wage, and so Americans have read all these stories about prominent billionaires paying virtually nothing in the way of income taxes for years and years on end. I don’t think that’s right.”
  • On the future trajectory of electric vehicles: “Getting a critical mass of these electric vehicles on the road is going to bring down costs. It’s going to be good for the environment, good for marketplace forces, and the American economy.”

Tom Steyer highlighted the importance of cleaning up electricity generation across the country, how the climate tech investment landscape has changed over the last decade, and what areas of climate tech he believes need more attention and investment.

  • On the future of the infrastructure and reconciliation bills: “I believe that the Democratic Party will come to a negotiated place which will include very important climate regulations, climate initiatives, and that specifically they will be encouraging the move to clean electricity generation across the United States during this decade.”
  • On the need for more tangible innovations in climate tech: “It’s going to be incredibly important for us too to do well in the businesses like manufacturing, where you can touch the product. We have dominated the kinds of businesses like software that you can’t touch.”

Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top segment with HSBC’s Group Chief Sustainability Officer Celine Herweijer, who discussed how sustainability is moving to the forefront of many corporations’ long-term goals.

  • “We’ve committed to essentially have a net zero target across all of our finance commissions portfolio. So to be able to do that, that means fundamentally changing how we finance it, fundamentally changing our risk appetite, changing our culture, our policies, our processes of capability.”

Thank you HSBC for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper: Get smarter, faster on the growing field of climate tech with our free short course.

Instagram pauses development of platform for kids

Photo: Lorenzo Di Cola/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Instagram announced Monday that it is pausing its plans to develop a version of its platform for children under 13.

Why it matters: Facebook has received backlash since the Wall Street Journal published a report that showed the company knew its Instagram app is harmful for teenagers.

Stock buybacks boom as corporate cash piles grow

The Delta variant is keeping more companies cautious about how to invest the mountains of cash they have at their disposal. That hesitancy has led, in part, to corporate spending on stock buybacks outpacing capital expenditures this year. 

Why it matters: Companies hoarded cash and raised prices over the past year — leaving them with a lot of money and decisions about what to do with it.