President Joe Biden has a plan to protect Americans' retirements and savings from the 'urgent and systemic risk' of the climate crisis

President Joe Biden has a plan to protect Americans' retirements and savings from the 'urgent and systemic risk' of the climate crisis
Thousands of youth demand action during a Climate Change protest in downtown Los Angeles, California on September 20, 2019, as part of a global protest happening around the world. FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images
  • Biden unveiled a plan last month to mitigate the economic risks of the climate crisis.
  • The report outlines strategies to protect Americans' savings and retirements from climate risks.

President Joe Biden has made clear that acting on the climate crisis is a top priority for his administration.

On October 15, Biden unveiled a 40-page report titled "A Roadmap to Build a Climate-Resilient Economy," which focuses on mitigating the financial risks climate change puts on people's retirements, pensions, savings, and more. This follows up on an executive order the president signed in May that was dedicated to analyzing and mitigating the risk the climate crisis poses to homeowners, businesses, consumers, and the government.

Over the past few years, the US has been hit with a number of extreme weather events, like Texas' winter storm in February that caused the state's power grid to largely shut down. Those events have cost Americans more than $600 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Biden administration hopes that enacting Friday's plan, along with May's executive order, would help prevent further costs.

"If this year has shown us anything, it's that climate change poses an ongoing urgent and systemic risk to our economy and to the lives and livelihoods of everyday Americans, and we must act now," Gina McCarthy, the White House national climate advisor, told reporters.

Specifically, the report outlines a "whole-of-government" approach to promoting the resilience of the US financial system to climate-related risks, protecting life savings and pensions, incorporating climate-related financial risk into federal lending like mortgages, and building more resilient infrastructure.


The report says government agencies such as the Labor, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs departments will work to develop tools to mitigate the financial risks, and they will be releasing subsequent details in coming months.

Last week, Biden attended the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, during which he met with world leaders to agree to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and develop strategies to combat the climate crisis. He stressed benefits fighting climate change would have, including creating jobs and boosting the economy.

"It's in the self-interest of every single nation," Biden said during remarks. "And this is a chance, in my view, to make a generational investment in our economic resilience and in our workers and our communities throughout the world. That's what we're going to do in the United States."

Biden pledged during his campaign to reduce fossil-fuel usage, and he is pushing for Democrats' $1.75 trillion social-spending bill to be passed, which includes a $555 billion investment to combat the climate crisis - the biggest investment in the bill. While there's no question on the urgency of the crisis, the Bank of America economist Ethan Harris wrote in an October note that actions addressing the climate crisis will likely hurt economic growth "during the transition from a dirty to green economy" because workers will need to move from one sector to another.

But in the long term, as Harris noted, the stunted economic growth will be well worth it. The United Nations in August released a harrowing report saying some of global warming's effects will be "irreversible for centuries to millennia," emphasizing how there's no time to wait when it comes to addressing climate change.


"We are clear-eyed to how climate change poses a systemic risk to our economy," National Economic Council deputy director Bharat Ramamurti said on the press call. "We are taking a precautionary approach that reflects the fact that inaction is not an option."