“For decades, scientists have warned of extreme weather … and we’re living through it now,” Biden said. “We don’t have any more time.”
Last week Biden visited Louisiana to survey flood damage there. A week after Hurricane Ida hit the state it is estimated that almost 600,000 homes are without power.
Earlier this year a team of scientists found that the deadly heatwave that scorched the Pacific north-west and western Canada would have been virtually impossible without human-caused climate change. The heatwave is believed to be linked to hundreds of deaths.
States such as Oregon and California have also suffered some of the most intense and damaging wildfires in their history.
Biden used the floods to push Congress to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a separate US$3.5 trillion spending package that include a massive injection in funding for green energy and climate adaptation programs.
The infrastructure bill, which passed the Senate with bipartisan support in August, includes tens of billions of dollars in funding to protect against drought and floods and reduce emissions from American airports and ports.
It also includes US$7.5 billion to build the nation’s first national network of electric vehicle chargers.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has set an October 1 timeline to pass both bills through the House of Representatives.
Appearing beside Biden in New Jersey, Deanne Criswell, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said that extreme weather events like tropical Storm Ida were “becoming more normal”.
“They’re becoming more common, but they’re more severe and they’re more intense,” she said. “And the effects of climate change that is causing these storms are here, and it’s our job to make sure that we are all ready to respond, as well as prepared.”
At a White House climate summit in April Biden announced an ambitious new target of a 50-52 per cent cut in America’s emissions by 2030 based on 2005 levels.
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