President-elect aims to strengthen relationships with European countries
By Sophie Boulter, Staff Writer
President-elect Joe Biden is planning for foreign policy that focuses on mitigating climate change and restoring America’s alliances with European nations. He faces conflicting policy demands and challenges from Congress, American voters and the wider world.
At the center of Biden’s climate change policy is a promise to bring the United States back into the Paris Agreement, a 2016 United Nations climate change agreement. The Paris Agreement commits signatories to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Biden aims to pursue a target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Though he can rejoin the Paris Agreement without congressional approval, Biden may find that he cannot pass the climate initiatives required to reach his net-zero target without the support of congressional Republicans.
According to CNBC, Biden will need to use executive orders to push his climate agenda through the Senate if Democrats lose the Senate runoff elections in Georgia. These runoffs, scheduled for Jan. 5, will determine which party controls the Senate.
Biden’s announced commitment to combating climate change has so far endeared him to several world leaders.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson invited Biden to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which Johnson is hosting in Glasgow next November.
French President Emmanuel Macron also greeted Biden’s election with optimism, especially praising Biden’s commitment to climate change.
“‘Make our planet great again’ is a possibility, not just in words but also in deed,” Macron said.
Other world leaders, however, are critical of Biden’s climate change plans.
Last Tuesday, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro brought up past comments from Biden, in which Biden linked Brazil’s wildfires to climate change and threatened financial repercussions against Brazil.
Bolsonaro also refused to recognize Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, still referring to him as a candidate.
“I recently heard a presidential candidate from a country say that if I don’t put out the fire in the Amazon he is going to raise trade barriers against Brazil… When there is no more saliva, then there must be gunpowder,” Bolsonaro said.
Several of Trump’s foreign allies have also refused to recognize Biden’s victory, including Russian President Valdimir Putin.
After some delay, Chinese President Xi Xinping recognized Biden on Friday.
In addition to climate change, Biden has repeatedly emphasized his commitment to America’s alliances.
His campaign’s eponymous “Biden Plan” for foreign policy criticizes the previous administration for “undermining” America’s relationships.
“Trump’s erratic policies and failure to uphold basic democratic principles have surrendered our position in the world (and) undermined our democratic alliances,” the Biden Plan says.
Surveys indicate that American voters are supportive of alliances but do not want other countries to become reliant on American leadership.
According to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs 2019 survey, 74% of Americans support the country’s military alliances.
The same survey found that 66% of Americans favor shared leadership in foreign affairs rather than unilateral American leadership.
A key aspect of Trump’s foreign policy was applying pressure to America’s allies to increase their commitments to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) rather than relying upon American defense.
It is unclear to what extent Biden will continue Trump’s policy of pressuring NATO members to pay more for their collective defense.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised that Europe would continue to expand its own defense in a statement on Monday.
“Europeans understand that we must take on more responsibilities in this partnership in the 21st century. America remains our most important ally, but it rightfully expects more effort from us to guarantee our own security and to defend our values around the world,” Merkel said.