White House launches American Climate Corps


The move comes as Democratic lawmakers and activists call on President Joe Biden to take bigger steps to fight climate change.

WASHINGTON — The White House on Wednesday announced the launch of the American Climate Corps, which the administration said will mobilize more than 20,000 Americans in the clean energy and climate resilience sectors.

“This is important because we’re not only opening up pathways to bold climate action, we’re not just opening up pathways to decarbonization, we’re opening up pathways to good paying careers, lifetimes of being involved in the work of making our communities more sustainable, more fair, more resilient in the face of a changing climate,” White House climate policy adviser Ali Zaidi said on a call with reporters Tuesday.

The White House is also creating a website where people interested in joining the effort can sign up for information. The corps members will be paid, the White House said.

The American Climate Corps will “train young people in clean energy, conservation and climate resilience related skills” and “streamline pathways into civil service,” the White House said in a news release.

Zaidi was joined on the call with reporters by the head of the environmental group Sunrise Movement, Varshini Prakash. Sunrise Movement has been vocal in calling on President Joe Biden to declare a national emergency over the effects of climate change, creating a petition that has garnered more than 41,000 supporters, according to the group’s website.

Prakash compared the American Climate Corps to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps, which was created as part of the New Deal in 1933.

“Just as FDR Civilian Conservation Corps put millions to work repairing bridges, planting trees and building national parks, this climate corps will conserve our land and water, bolster community resilience, advance environmental justice and tackle the climate crisis,” Prakash said. “And unlike FDR’s CCC, which only employed white men, this climate corps will uplift and empower a diverse and inclusive workforce.”

The White House previously pitched the idea of launching a new Civilian Climate Corps as part of its sweeping Build Back Better Act framework, but the proposal was cut from the comparatively smaller Inflation Reduction Act that ultimately passed Congress. The original proposal for the climate effort said the corps would have more than 300,000 members that “will conserve our public lands, bolster community resilience, and address the changing climate, all while putting good-paying union jobs within reach for more Americans.” Biden had also signed an executive order just days into his presidency calling on agencies to submit a strategy for creating a Civilian Climate Corps initiative.

The launch of the program on Wednesday comes as Biden faces a low approval rating on the issue of climate change. Forty percent of respondents in a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll in July approved of the president’s handling of climate change, while 57% disapproved.

Earlier this week, House and Senate Democrats sent a letter to Biden urging him to issue an executive order to establish a Civilian Climate Corps initiative.

“As members of Congress who have led on various legislative proposals for Civilian Climate and Conservation Corps, we support your Administration in taking executive action and will continue to fight for additional resources from Congress,” said the letter, which was signed by 51 members of Congress.

Source: NBC