President-elect Biden should use all the tools at his disposal to avert further climate devastation while helping people recover from the pandemic.

Below, we’ve pulled out 25 key executive actions that Biden can take from Day One to protect and invest in communities, end the era of fossil fuel production, and #BuildBackFossilFree. Every action should come with strong labor standards to protect workers’ rights and be developed with meaningful consultation with Indigenous peoples, workers, frontline communities, and other affected constituencies.

1. Protect and invest in the Black, Indigenous, Brown, and working-class communities that have borne the brunt of fossil fuel pollution and climate disaster.

Prevent pollution hotspots

Develop and advance a federal No Hotspots Policy to prevent disproportionate exposure to multiple sources of pollution in “hotspots,” particularly in communities of color.

This executive action has not been taken.

Create a Climate and Environmental Equity Map and Screen

Establish a system to identify communities facing the heaviest pollution burdens, climate vulnerability, health disparities, and socioeconomic inequities, and screen all regulatory proposals and investments for equity impacts using this system.

This executive action has not been taken.

Implement a fossil fuel moratorium for environmental justice communities

Halt new fossil fuel infrastructure, operations, and transport in and around environmental justice communities.

This executive action has not been taken.

Address cumulative pollution impacts

Require cumulative pollution impact assessments of all applicable federal policies, regulations, and actions, in order to reduce disproportionate environmental impacts on over-polluted communities.

This executive action has not been taken.

Strengthen the federal environmental justice mandate

Reaffirm and strengthen Executive Order 12898 on environmental justice, including expanding its scope to include climate change impacts, risks, and required mitigation for all identified adverse impacts, and establish a mandate to require that at least 40 percent of federal clean energy and climate investments are targeted for the most impacted communities.

This executive action has not been taken.

Enshrine self-determination of Indigenous peoples

Institutionalize Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) to require consent of American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and Indigenous peoples regarding federal actions affecting their lands, livelihoods, culture, and spirituality.

This executive action has not been taken.

Reckon with the impacts of colonization

Establish a high-level commission to determine federal responsibility for the harms affecting American Indian and Alaska Native nations and peoples, and use this as the basis for policies and investments to remedy past harms and support self-determination for Indigenous clean energy transitions and economic development.

This executive action has not been taken.

Prioritize co-pollutant reductions

Require that greenhouse gas emissions standards and related policies also prioritize and maximize reducing other pollutants in overburdened communities.

This executive action has not been taken.

Set a national climate pollution standard

Establish a science-based, nation-wide, and economy-wide cap on greenhouse gas emissions to reduce climate pollution at the pace necessary to protect public health and welfare.

This executive action has not been taken.

Regulate climate pollution sources

Set strict limits on greenhouse gas emissions from all stationary sources of pollution and from all modes of transportation, including vehicles, shipping, and aviation, as fast as possible.

This executive action has not been taken.

2. Reject new fossil projects, eliminate giveaways to oil, gas, and coal corporations, and end the era of fossil fuel production.

Ban federal fossil fuel leasing

Ban new fossil fuel leases and permits on our public lands and waters, and phase out existing production as quickly as possible while protecting workers and communities.

This executive action has not been taken.

Reject climate-polluting projects

Reject all federal permits for fossil fuel and other climate-damaging infrastructure, including, but not limited to, the Keystone XL, Dakota Access, Line 3, and Mountain Valley Pipelines.

This executive action has not been taken.

End fossil fuel subsidies

End fossil fuel subsidies, bailouts, and international finance and redirect funds to climate investments.

This executive action has not been taken.

Hold polluters accountable

Investigate and prosecute fossil fuel polluters for damages they have caused, and electric utilities for antitrust violations.

This executive action has not been taken.

Prevent new polluter giveaways

Commit to veto legislation that would undermine climate action or environmental justice, including bills that grant legal immunity, new subsidies, or regulatory loopholes for polluting corporations to continue to harm our communities and environment, and bills that invest in technologies that would harm communities or perpetuate market-based mechanisms.

This executive action has not been taken.

Ensure a just transition

Create an Interagency Just Transition Task Force to facilitate a well-managed phaseout of all fossil fuel production and guarantee support for affected workers and communities, including wage and tax base support, job training, and vocational opportunities.

This executive action has not been taken.

End fossil fuel exports

Reinstate the ban on crude oil exports under a national emergency declaration and halt fossil gas exports to the extent possible under existing law.

This executive action has not been taken.

3. Launch a national climate mobilization to Build Back Fossil Free, delivering jobs, justice, and opportunity for all.

Declare a climate emergency

Declare a national emergency on the climate crisis and direct resources to build out clean, renewable, and distributed renewable energy

This executive action has not been taken.

Establish an Office of Climate Mobilization

Create a new office and council to lead a national climate mobilization alongside federal agencies and state and local governments.

This executive action has not been taken.

Create a green infrastructure bank

Establish an institution to finance historic green infrastructure investments via loans, grants, equity, and other instruments.

This executive action has not been taken.

Use green manufacturing to drive the 100% clean energy transition

Use the Defense Production Act to mobilize domestic production of clean energy, energy efficiency technologies, storage, smart grid infrastructure, and electric vehicles.

This executive action has not been taken.

Transform all federal government operations to 100% clean energy by 2025

Direct all agencies, including federal utilities, to power their operations and facilities with 100% clean energy by 2025.

This executive action has not been taken.

Usher in an era of energy democracy

Drive energy democracy and green Rural America by financing distributed and community solar and wind power development.

This executive action has not been taken.

Decarbonize and increase resilience of the buildings sector

Make retrofitting accessible and affordable for building managers and homeowners while creating millions of good jobs.

This executive action has not been taken.

Make the U.S. a responsible world leader on global climate justice

Rejoin the Paris Agreement and commit the U.S. to reduce its fair share of emissions at the source, fulfill its “climate debt” to developing countries by increasing climate finance contributions, and call for binding safeguards under Article 6 to protect human rights and the right of Indigenous Peoples, including an effective grievance procedure and the prohibition of market-based mechanisms.

This executive action has not been taken.


For a detailed climate justice executive action blueprint, Biden should look to the #ClimatePresident Action Plan: 10 Steps for Next Administration’s First 10 Days and the Frontlines Climate Justice Executive Action Platform. Together, these plans are supported by over 500 leading climate, environmental, racial and economic justice, and youth organizations representing millions of people nationwide. They stem from the best available science and legal analysis (see: Legal Authority for Presidential Executive Action on Climate).