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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Joe Biden emphasized climate change in his speech accepting the Democratic nomination Thursday night, as the days leading up to it offered fresh evidence of the problem's scale and tensions within his coalition.

Why it matters: It was a statement of priority in the most important speech of Biden's campaign to unseat President Trump, and the address mentioned the topic repeatedly.

  • It came amid a heat wave and big wildfires in California, reminders of the impact of global warming (though climate is among several forces that boost fire risks and intensity).
  • Earlier in the night, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) gave remarks not far from the site of one of the fires in his state. "The hots are getting hotter, the drys are getting drier. Climate change is real. If you are in denial about climate change, come to California," he said.

What he said: Biden listed climate among the four "historic crises" facing the U.S., alongside the pandemic, the economic crash and the need for racial justice.

  • The U.S. must confront the "undeniable realities and accelerating threats of climate change," the former vice president added.

The big picture: Biden tethered climate to his economic message and plans, calling it an "enormous opportunity."

  • "An opportunity for America to lead the world in clean energy and create millions of new good-paying jobs in the process," he said, a theme echoed by other speakers during the week.
  • That's something to watch because it could signal, if he wins, near-term efforts to push major climate-related spending through Congress as part of the economic response to the pandemic, something we wrote about here.
  • Biden's plan calls for $2 trillion in new investments over four years in clean energy and climate-friendly infrastructure programs.

Yes, but: This week also showed policy divides within the Democratic coalition that would probably surface again if Biden wins, and if Democrats regain the Senate, which would open the door for legislative steps.

  • There was the dust-up over the removal of language opposing fossil fuel subsidies from the party's nonbinding platform, though Biden's team sought to smooth it over by re-upping his anti-subsidy stance.
  • Check out Axios' Dan Primack's chat on the Axios Re:Cap podcast with New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), a Biden surrogate.
  • Grisham opposes Biden's position that fracking should be banned on federal lands, but her stance contrasts with some activists who say Biden's agenda should take an even more aggressive stance on fossil fuels.

Go deeper

Biden's Day 1 challenges: Systemic racism

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Kirsty O'Connor (PA Images)/Getty Images

Advocates are pushing President-elect Biden to tackle systemic racism with a Day 1 agenda that includes ending the detention of migrant children and expanding DACA, announcing a Justice Department investigation of rogue police departments and returning some public lands to Indigenous tribes.

Why it matters: Biden has said the fight against systemic racism will be one of the top goals of his presidency — but the expectations may be so high that he won't be able to meet them.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 25, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Powerful lobbying groups push back on climate suits

Powerful lobbying groups are throwing their support behind oil companies' efforts to keep climate-related lawsuits against the industry out of state courts.

Driving the news: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers, among others, filed amicus briefs this week supporting Big Oil companies in a pending jurisdictional case before the Supreme Court.

Updated Dec 7, 2020 - Politics & Policy

The top Republicans who have acknowledged Biden as president-elect

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Some elected Republicans are breaking ranks with President Trump to acknowledge that President-elect Biden won the 2020 presidential election.

Why it matters: The relative sparsity of acknowledgements highlights Trump's lasting power in the GOP, as his campaign moves to file multiple lawsuits alleging voter fraud in key swing states — despite the fact that there have been no credible allegations of any widespread fraud anywhere in the U.S.