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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Joe Biden's inauguration and the days right after will bring a rat-tat-tat burst of climate policy moves, but keep this in mind amid the splashy pledges: pushing through most of his agenda will be a long, uncertain slog.

Why it matters: Biden's climate plan is far more expansive than anything contemplated under President Obama. But for all the immediate pledges, it will take years to see how far Biden gets.

What's next: Biden will issue a memo Wednesday saying the U.S. is rejoining the Paris climate deal (which is technically a 30-day process).

  • Another inauguration day move, per multiple news reports, will scrap the permit for the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, a project he pledged to block during the campaign.
  • Look for a bunch of other executive orders and directives on climate and energy this week and through Feb. 1, incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain said in a weekend memo about the first 10 days.
  • Reuters reports that early moves will include seeking to prevent oil-and-gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  

Yes, but: It's true executive orders and memos can achieve some things fast. But often they're akin to firing a starting gun that directs agencies to begin what's a time-consuming bureaucratic process to make real and lasting policy changes.

How it works: Crafting formal regulations on areas like tougher CO2 mandates for the auto sector — just one of the many areas where Biden is planning new rules — is often a yearslong process.

  • Other goals, like lots of new spending on low-carbon energy projects and climate-friendly infrastructure, will take careful negotiations with the narrowly divided Congress.
  • And even returning to the pre-Trump status quo by rejoining Paris is simply a precursor to months and years of diplomacy aimed at a more aggressive global response to climate change.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 29, 2021 - Economy & Business

General Motors puts Trump in its rearview mirror

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

General Motors (GM) is racing to prepare itself for a president and a world that takes climate change more seriously — and putting the Trump era behind them in the process.

Driving the news: GM yesterday announced an ambitious plan to end global sales of internal combustion vehicles by 2035. It's part of their wider new pledge to be carbon neutral by 2040.

FBI, Homeland Security warn of increasing threat to Capitol

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security predict violent domestic extremists attacks will increase in 2021, according to a report reviewed by Axios.

Driving the news: The joint report says an unidentified group of extremists discussed plans to take control of the Capitol and "remove Democratic lawmakers" on or about March 4. The House canceled its plans for Thursday votes as word of the possible threats spread.

24 mins ago - World

Pope Francis set to make first papal visit to Iraq amid possible turmoil

Data: Vatican News; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Pope Francis is forging ahead with the first papal trip to Iraq despite new coronavirus outbreaks and fears of instability.

The big picture: The March 5–8 visit is intended to reassure Christians in Iraq who were violently persecuted under the Islamic State. Francis also hopes to further ties with Shiite Muslims, AP notes.

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