Last Labor Day, candidate Joe Biden made an impassioned pitch to leaders and members of the AFL-CIO, America’s largest labor federation. Stressing that “the great American middle class was built by unions,” he jabbed his finger in the air for emphasis as he promised, “I’m going to be the strongest labor president you have ever had,” drawing a smile from his longtime ally and friend, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
But Biden has also declared climate change the nation’s greatest challenge and is supporting strategies that could cost struggling union members hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs that will not be easily replaced. From interviews with labor leaders, RealClearInvestigations has found that President Biden may be hard-pressed to balance the competing demands of these two core constituencies — unions and environmentalists. How he addresses those tensions will shape his much-anticipated climate plan to cut carbon emissions.
As a famous man once said, never underestimate Joe’s ability to f*ck things up. Plus:
The global imbalance in fighting climate change also fuels the grievances of fossil-fuel workers who believe they are getting a raw deal. China, which burns about half the world’s coal, plans to expand its coal power fleet in coming years and increase carbon pollution as the U.S. and European Union slowly shave output. While global emissions dropped sharply last year because of the COVID lockdowns, they are expected to rise again, with coal as the biggest source.
The nonbinding Paris Agreement can’t compel China to change course, so Biden is banking on the power of the U.S. example.
Sure, that’ll work.